Biologists predict moderate hunting conditions before white-tailed deer archery season opens

Austin, Texas – With drought affecting most of the state over the summer, Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) biologists predict a moderate hunting season this fall.

“Overall, 2022 should be a good year in terms of catch numbers and opportunities, so don’t waste time in the field with family, friends and other hunters,” said Alan. Cain, White-Tailed Deer Program. Leader for TPWD. “Texas has one of the longest deer seasons in the country, so take some time out this fall and winter and enjoy one of the best deer herds in the country, right here in your home country. .”

Deer hunting kicks off with archery season on October 1 across most of the state. Cain noted that while harvest numbers may look good, drought impacts on deer habitats mean hunters should generally expect average to below average antler quality and body weight this fall.

Additionally, hunters may see fewer deer at feeders when archery season opens, as recent rains have improved habitat conditions, providing an abundance of native forage which means deer no won’t have to travel far to find something to graze. Bowhunters may need to modify their hunting strategies to successfully harvest, Cain said.

Drought conditions

Early summer temperatures frequently soared above 100 degrees across most of the state, and the lack of significant rainfall limited the spring production of important food sources like herbaceous plants (weeds) and woody shrubs for deer.

“Wood plants are essential in times like these, as these deep-rooted plants are often the only plentiful source of green groceries for deer, but even these browsing plants are showing signs of stress,” Cain said. “The mesquites appear to be on track to produce an abundance of beans this year and were key sources of natural forage for deer in late summer in the central, southern and western parts of the state.”

Wildfires have also swept across large areas of the state, causing significant habitat loss and damage, but Cain said nature is finding a way to rejuvenate the landscape.

“Where fires have occurred, there have been new growths of grass and weeds providing much-needed food and cover for deer,” Cain said. “Although the habitat conditions have improved considerably with the recent rains, the time was a little late to have a significant influence on the quality of the woods. ”

While the archery-only season kicks off on October 1, the general season opens more than a month later on November 5. The general season runs until January 1, 2023 in the North Zone and January 15, 2023 in the South Zone. Area. A special youth-only season is scheduled for both areas October 29-30 and January 2-15, 2023. For more late-season deer hunting opportunities, county-specific regulations, and information on how to label the property and report a harvest, consult the Outdoor Directory 2022-23.

Archery hunters are required to purchase an archery endorsement in addition to their hunting license. Hunters using Texas public hunting lands must have the annual public hunting license. Public land hunters should also consult the Public Land Hunting Map Booklet to review regulations that may apply to specific areas. The My Texas Hunt Harvest app can be used to perform on-site electronic registration in a public hunting area

Those interested in learning more about archery and bowhunting, or anyone looking to brush up on their skills ahead of the season, are encouraged to explore Bowhunter by Fall, a series of newsletters brought to you by the program of TPWD community archery.

CWD test

TPWD reminds hunters that wildlife biologists and animal health officers at TPWD collect and test chronic wasting disease (CWD) samples from deer shot by hunters to get a clearer picture of prevalence. and the distribution of the disease across Texas. Proactive surveillance improves the state’s response time to detecting chronic wasting disease and can significantly reduce the risk of disease spread to neighboring captive and free-ranging populations.

Hunters in surveillance and containment zones must meet CWD Susceptible Harvested Species submission requirements. Additionally, hunters outside established surveillance and containment zones are encouraged to voluntarily submit their harvest for testing at a checkpoint, free of charge, before returning home from the field. A map of TPWD checkpoints for all CWD areas is available on the TPWD website.

For more information on chronic wasting disease, visit the TPWD website or the TAHC website.

Earnest A. Martinez