Moderate conditions predicted for white-tailed deer hunters in Texas due to drought

Recent rain is resulting in nutrition for deer, but it’s too late to help their body weight, antler quality

File image of a deer. (Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)

SAN ANTONIO – Texas hunters should expect moderate conditions for white-tailed deer when the season kicks off this fall.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife said biologists are making that prediction due to both the drought over the summer and recent rainfall.

The drought’s impact on deer habitat means that their antlers and body weight should be average to below average, according to TPWD. The high temperatures and lack of rain limited their food sources such as forbs, or weeds, and woody shrubs.

“Woody plants are critical in times like these because these deep-rooted plants are often the only abundant supply of green groceries for deer, but even these browse plants are showing some signs of stress,” Alan Cain, the white-tailed deer program leader for TPWD, said in a news release. “Mesquites appear to be on track to produce an abundance of beans this year and were critical sources of natural forage for deer in late summer in the central, south and western portions of the state.”

Because of recent rainfall, the deer may be taking advantage of the new foliage, therefore they won’t be traveling as far for food, TPWD states.

New grass and weed growth have also been sprouting in areas hit by wildfires.

This is providing “much-needed nutrition and cover for deer,” Cain said. “Although habitat conditions have improved immensely with recent rains, the timing was a bit late to have any meaningful influence on antler quality.”

However, the prediction for harvest numbers is still positive.

“Overall, 2022 year is expected to be good in terms of harvest numbers and opportunities, so don’t let the chance to spend time afield with family, friends and fellow hunters pass you by,” he said.

Cain added that hunters may need to change their strategies due to the conditions.

The white-tailed deer season kicks off on Oct. 1 with archery-only in the majority of Texas. The general season begins on Nov. 5. Hunters can buy their licenses now.

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.