deer hunting

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Predicts Above Average Hunting Season Ahead of General Deer Season Opener

The general deer season runs from Nov. 7 through Jan. 3 in the North Zone, and it extends through Jan. 17 in the South Zone

A deer crosses at a "deer crossing"
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Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists are predicting a fruitful white-tailed deer season in many regions of the state.

Though conditions are drying statewide, September rains helped to create an abundance of forbs and shrubs, both of which are critical for providing nutrition for deer, the Parks and Wildlife Department said.

The general deer season runs from Nov. 7 through Jan. 3 in the North Zone, and it extends through Jan. 17 in the South Zone.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, a special youth-only gun deer season is set for Oct. 31 to Nov. 1 and Jan. 4 to Jan. 17.

"Hunters in the Edwards Plateau, Cross Timbers and South Texas eco-regions can expect some of the best conditions," Alan Cain, the TPWD White-Tailed Deer Program Leader, said. "If dry conditions persist, hunters could expect to see increased deer activity around feeders or other key food sources."

The Edwards Plateau in central Texas has the highest deer population in the state with an estimated 2.37 million deer, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said.

An anthrax outbreak in 2019 caused the death of some white-tailed deer, but TPWD biologists suggested that those losses provided long-term benefits, resulting in healthier deer and more nutrition to help bucks in the area maximize antler production due to the reduced deer densities.

The Cross Timbers region in north Texas has the second highest deer population in the state and encompasses five Deer Management Units with deer densities ranging from 14 to 88 deer per 1,000 acres, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said.

Fawn production in the Cross Timbers has been greater than 50% for the last 8 years, and 2020 is expected to be average or above average due to range conditions.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, hunters should expect to see plentiful numbers of mature bucks this year.

Mild temperatures and beneficial rains this spring should warrant a good season in South Texas, especially in the eastern half of the region and south towards the Rio Grande Valley, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said.

Deer populations in the region are stable with most recent estimates numbering close to 438,000 deer. Antler quality is expected to be better than average in South Texas for hunters looking to pursue mature bucks.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, white-tailed deer and mule deer are Chronic Wasting Disease-susceptible animals. Hunters should review CWD information to find testing requirements and carcass movement restrictions in CWD Containment and Surveillance Zones before hitting the field.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reminded hunters to comply with carcass movement restrictions when harvesting deer, elk, moose, or other susceptible species in CWD-positive states when transporting animals back home. 

Hunters can enter their deer harvests into the 30th annual Texas Big Game Awards, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said. The awards offer categories for first harvests, youth hunters, and scholarship opportunities for any graduating high school senior, entering college freshman, sophomore, or junior in an agriculture or natural resources-related degree plan.

Hunters can also help Texas families by donating their legally harvested and tagged white-tailed or mule deer to participating processors as part of Hunters for the Hungry, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, funds donated through the Hunters for the Hungry website or while buying your Texas hunting license can help promote the program and cover the costs of processing donated deer meat for hungry families throughout the state.

Additional late season deer hunting opportunities, county specific regulations, and information on how to properly tag and report a harvest are available in the 2020-2021 all-digital Outdoor Annual.

Hunters can access to their Texas proof of Hunter Education in the free Outdoor Annual mobile app for iOS and Android.

Every hunter in Texas, including out-of-state hunters, born on or after Sept. 2, 1971 are required to successfully complete Hunter Education, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said.

Hunters must also have an Annual Public Hunting Permit to take advantage of Texas Public Hunting Lands. Public land hunters must consult the Public Hunting Lands Map Booklet to review regulations that apply to specific areas.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the My Texas Hunt Harvest app can be used to complete on-site registration electronically at public hunting areas.

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