Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s Whitetail Deer Program leader Alan Cain is optimistic about the 2020-2021 deer season.
Spring rains across much of the state, at the right time and in the right amounts set the stage for healthy fawn production as well overall herd conditions. Last Fall was near drought conditions in several deer rich areas of the state. South Texas, Hill Country and West Texas were not in the best shape until the late winter/early spring rains.
East Texas was also blessed with timely rain which provides a continuous buffet for the pregnant or nursing doe as well as the fawn once weened. The bucks are also enjoying these benefits during antler development time. In East Texas bucks are already sporting velvet antlers.
A late evening cruise through the Sabine River bottom last weekend turned up two very good bucks in velvet and several yearlings in fuzz. If we can get enough rain between now September Cain believes the stage will be set for another favorable season.
The late afternoon showers common during our summers have an immediate impact and produce forage the deer can use.
The TPWD has the Texas deer herd at roughly 5.5 million. This breaks down to a little over 49 deer per thousand acres. These numbers can be misleading as concentrations are not evenly spread across the state. The Hill Country and Cross Timbers regions have the highest percentage of deer per acre and South Texas also has a large population.
East Texas has a good number of deer but our thickets and river bottoms make it much harder to see them. There is a tremendous amount of urban deer and they can adapt to live in high traffic conditions. The green belt along Grace’s Creek has long held a healthy population of whitetails.
Nearly every town has enough undeveloped land within the city limits to sustain at least a small herd. San Marcos probably leads the race for most urban deer but if you look for them, it may surprise you how many there are.
According to the TPWD the success rates for Texas deer hunters during the 2019-2020 was an estimated 60%. Similar success rates are expected for the upcoming 2020-2021 season. Again for perspective, an average hunter in the Llano or San Saba county will have a much higher success rate than Gregg or Smith county simply because deer numbers are so lopsided.
Gregg and Smith hunters will do better than Galveston county hunters and so on. There is a group of bucks that should be of a higher proportion that is good news. Across the state, we should be exposed to more 6.5 to 8.5 year old bucks. Bucks in this age group should be at the top of the game and will most likely be in the best shape of their life.
These age groups had a tremendous fawn crop during these years. Cain explained that doe harvest has been lower the previous 2 years which indicates a widening of the doe to buck ratio.
Cain feels we should have plenty of bucks of all ages due to carryover but those older bucks will be on the trophy hunters list.