If you take a look at national drought maps, it often appears like there’s a big bullseye centered on Texas. Drought here is very real and has been for the last few years. Yet, taken in total, the impact has not been as great on the Texas deer herd as one might assume.
“The whitetail deer herd in Texas is doing well and is stable,” said Alan Cain, deer program leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). “Despite one of the worst droughts on record last year, the deer population came through with minimal population impacts. Most areas experienced a low fawn crop last year as to be expected but we had very few reports of any significant adult mortality related to the drought and there are still 3.3 million deer in Texas, making this a great state to chase a whitetail.”
Actually, moisture this winter and spring were better than winter and spring 2011.
“Most of the state has received much needed rain this spring to boost forage resources needed for antler development and fawn rearing,” Cain notes.
But conditions are not great all over the Lone Star State. Far West Texas, for example, which is primarily mule deer country, is very dry. Cain expects that 2012 antler production here will be average at best.
But hope is not lost. “South Texas, known for trophy bucks, should be in good shape as we’ve had rain this summer. The Texas Hill Country, known for higher deer populations, has also received pretty good rains this summer so hunters should expect decent antler quality and good body weights for this region,” Cain said.
Cain also said that the Texas Panhandle is starting to get a reputation for producing a good number of trophy animals.
The rut in Texas varies across the whole state. But, TPWD has a website showing the rut by geographic regions and peak times.
The Southern Regional Report**
It looks like this will be another strong season for southeastern deer hunters, with deer herds in good to very good condition. Deer populations are stable to slightly growing, and all states expected a strong fawn crop this year. The central south (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas) saw drought expand over the region as summer went forward. However, this part of the country did receive substantial spring and early-summer rains, which generated a good deal of forage, so deer went into the summer in pretty good condition.
Top Trophy Zones
AR: Arkansas and Chicot counties.
FL: Alachua, Gadsden, and Jefferson counties.
LA: Avoyelles, Concordia, and East Feliciana parishes.
MS: Delta counties like Bolivar, Tallahatchie, and Yazoo are well represented in the record books. Outside of the Delta, Adams County has produced trophy bucks for the past 50 years, including the current state typical record, a 10-pointer killed in 2010 that netted an amazing 184 6⁄8.
OK: Osage and Coal counties. The latter is developing a reputation as a big-buck county, and that was only enhanced last year when 13-year-old Kelsey McKay shot a 200 7⁄8-inch monster non-typical. It is the largest buck ever taken in Coal, a county well represented in the state record books for both typical and non-typical whitetails.
SC: Orangeburg, Aiken, Fairfield, and Colleton counties.
TN: Cumberland and Van Buren counties, and the Tennessee sections of the U.S. Army’s Fort Campbell Military Installation.
TX: Irion, Kennedy, Maverick, Tom Green, and Webb counties.