Most white-tailed deer seasons opened on November 2 this year, and are about half over. But while the season closes on January 5 in most of the state, there are 30 counties in South Texas where the fun doesn’t stop until January 19. The Trans-Pecos mule deer season closes December 15—and there are plenty of nearly four million deer still roaming the range!
The peak of the breeding season has already passed—except in South Texas, where it usually hits in mid-December—but that doesn’t mean there aren’t enough un-bred does still around to keep the bucks moving.
Hunting has changed through time. When the purpose was “meat hunting,” venison meant survival. But in practice, the tastiest deer were bypassed through presumed notions of conservation, and desire for the more meaty bucks. So doe deer got a free pass for years. “You don’t shoot the mother of the species,” was the oft-quoted explanation behind the rule.
“Bigger is better” became the mantra. Even after does were ruled legal game, they were overlooked due to hunters’ competitiveness in chasing big bucks with large antlers. “Mine’s bigger than yours” monopolized campfire conversations.
But Nature’s laws caught up with this practice. A healthy doe usually bears twins—a buck fawn and a doe. Since hunters were predominantly bagging bucks, does soon outnumbered males. Without hunting pressure, over-population was inevitable. Eventually, too many mouths to feed led to habitat degradation, and without adequate nutrition, body size of all deer suffered.
Fortunately as deer management became more understood among landowners and hunters, the situation began to change and habitat conditions improved. Buck-lust and antler chasing persists, however.
Hunting’s economic impact in Texas is estimated at over $2.2 billion. It’s no longer blue jeans, a little red cap, a shaky perch on a rough oak limb, and an un-scoped .30-30 Winchester. Designer camo now fills the shelves and new products, guns, and calibers are constantly being introduced.
Deer feeders are no longer just a bucket of corn hanging from a tree, serving as a supplemental feeding station for creative raccoons. One intriguing one is the Diamond Feeders’ Varmint-Proof, Battery-free (solar) unit.
And hunters have long ago abandoned hunting from oak limbs. Now, a blind even resembles the tree on which that limb grew. The “TreeBlind,” by Nature Blinds looks real – not man-made. It’s even insulated.
Don’t give up on deer hunting just because it’s late in the season. Minnie Dora-Bunn Haynes, of Laredo, usually waited until the end of the season to hunt. On the last day of the season one year, she bagged a double-drop-tined buck with 31 antler points that scored 229-6/8. Adan Alvarez was hunting on King Ranch on January 16 the season he killed a double-drop-tined buck that scored 239-5/8, Texas’s best that year, and still ranked.
It ain’t over, yet!