What deer activity are you seeing?
Deer season has already arrived for some, and soon will for others. Fortunately for you, we'll be reporting on all the action here — in real time.
Down in Texas, the whitetail deer program leader for Texas Parks & Wildlife predicts an exceptional season statewide, thanks to all the rain this year.
In eastern Texas, bucks are already rubbing heavily, though many of these rubs are wispy and not very big, says K.C. Smith of The Element podcast. He expects a bumper crop of acorns in his region this season, particularly red oaks. Meanwhile, trail-cam intel reveals that bucks have split from bachelor groups in the past week, and most mature buck appearances are occurring at night.
In central and southern Texas, Mike Stroff, owner of SOE Hunts and host of Savage Outdoors, reports the wet spring and summer on his central and southern ranches has contributed to good antler development (particularly in the southern part of the state). In recent months, however, the weather has turned extremely hot and dry, and range conditions have quickly deteriorated. Stroff has begun offering supplemental feed to ensure the deer remain healthy. They badly need rain now, but Stroff still expects 2019-20 to be a great season.
In western Texas, a source who bowhunts Crosby and Borden Counties says whitetails there have grown exceptional antlers this year. A wet November and December 2018 bolstered bucks coming out of rut, and a wet spring followed. Weather dried up in late June, encouraging deer to hit feeders hard. Bucks are developing rub lines, but are still tolerating one another in their summer feeding patterns. The state's archery season opened Sept. 28 and some 150s to low 180s have already been tagged. Recent moisture is helping winter wheat and natural forbs get off to a good start for fall.
Like parts of Texas, the Sooner State has received above-normal precipitation for 2019. This has left habitat in excellent shape and provided plenty of nutrients to grow exceptional antlers. The state's big-game biologist, Dallas Barber, reports that deer populations are trending upward, with overall improvements in the age structure of bucks harvested. Barber also reminds hunters there are plenty of public-access wildlife management areas in Oklahoma to take advantage of.
The Rocky Mountain State also benefitted from greener pastures in 2019. Sources like Tavis Rogers and Fred Eichler, who hunt Eastern Plains whitetail strongholds, report a bumper crop of big bucks for the coming season. Sound game management and favorable weather conditions mean Colorado deer herds are doing quite well.
The persistent droughts that have plagued New Mexico since the early 2000s seem to have been broken, with the past two seasons (especially 2019) receiving abundant precipitation. Drought has been particularly hard on southwestern Coues deer and southeastern whitetail herds. Those dry periods did come with the silver lining of abundant wildfires, which eliminated low-yield brush and replaced it with nutritious new growth. This natural process has helped deer bounce back in parts of the Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness Areas, where Coues deer roam, and in the Lincoln National Forest to the southeast, where whitetails roam. All of this renewed precipitation has increased fawn survival and boosted antler growth, so this could be a banner year for high-scoring bucks.
Finally, Darren Choate — editor of Bowhunting World and Whitetail Journal and a serious Coues hunter — says the majority of Arizona received above-normal precipitation early in 2019, but dried up later in the summer. He also points to several wildfires across the state that should help improve overall deer habitat for the fall and winter. Some cattle tanks have gone dry, but overall range conditions are looking good. A few good bucks have already been taken, including a few giant mule deer from the Arizona Strip and Coues deer in the central and southern reaches of the state. Antler growth appears to be normal or slightly above normal, according to Choate, and the eastern counties received substantial rain recently.
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