The hot, dry conditions that have been gripping most of Texas could make Saturday’s archery-only white-tailed deer season opener a challenge for bowhunters, yet those who know how to work the conditions can still find good hunting. For the first time this fall, hunters are required to report all antlerless deer harvested in 21 south-central Texas counties—see details below.
“Although dry conditions should encourage deer to frequent feeders more consistently and more often, the hot temperatures may curtail movement during much of the day except for the periods around dawn and dusk,” said Alan Cain, TPWD white-tailed deer program leader. “Until cooler temperatures arrive and deer movement picks up hunters may consider using game cameras to narrow down peak deer movement near their favorite hunting location and increase chances of success.”
Texas boasts a robust white-tailed deer population of about 5.3 million deer which should contribute to hunter success this season. Despite the deterioration in range conditions over the last several months with the 100-degree weather and wind, Cain notes “Hunters should expect an excellent deer season with above average antler quality and fawn recruitment.” Cain explained that good rains early in the fall of 2018 that set the stage for an excellent crop of winter weeds lasting well into the spring. The excellent habitat conditions continued into early July and were critical in providing the nutrition bucks needed to maximize antler growth.
While the archery-only season kicks off this weekend and runs through Nov. 1, the general gun season opener is still more than a month away on Nov. 2. A special youth-only weekend season is set for Oct. 26-27. The general season runs through Jan. 5, 2020 in North Texas and Jan. 19, 2020 in South Texas. A late youth-only season is also slated for Jan. 6-19, 2020. For additional late season deer hunting opportunities and county specific regulations, consult the 2019-2020 Outdoor Annual of hunting and fishing regulations.
New this fall, hunters in parts of south-central Texas will be required to report all antlerless deer harvest in Austin, Bastrop, Caldwell, Colorado, Dewitt, Fayette, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Karnes, Lavaca, Lee, Waller, Washington, and Wilson. Counties also included in that change are Goliad, Jackson, Victoria, and Wharton counties north of U.S. Highway 59 and Comal, Hays, and Travis east of IH-35.
Any antlerless deer harvested during the archery, youth-only, muzzleloader, and the 4 doe-days during the general season is required to be reported to the department within 24 hours of harvest using either the “My Texas Hunt Harvest” mobile app (for iOS and Android) or on TPWD’s My Texas Hunt Harvest web page.
Anyone can get the “My Texas Hunt Harvest” app at tpwd.texas.gov/myhunt. The app works without a data signal as long as it has already been downloaded to the device. The app is also bilingual and available in Spanish to customers who use Spanish as the main language setting on their phone or other mobile devices.
Hunters are also reminded to review the TPWD chronic wasting disease regulations for information about CWD testing requirements and carcass movement restrictions for the 2019-2020 season. Also as a reminder, Texas hunters harvesting deer, elk, moose, or other susceptible species in other CWD-positive states must also comply with carcass movement restrictions when bringing those harvested animals back into Texas. Additionally, the Texas Animal Health Commission has mandatory testing requirements that apply to elk, red deer, sika, moose, and reindeer.