CENTRAL TEXAS — Cooler air is about to settle in for good, and for hunters, it's a sign that white-tailed deer season is just around the corner. If the weather hasn't gotten hunters excited yet, the outlook from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department might.
White-tailed deer season in Texas kicks off Saturday, Nov. 6 and the state says this year's numbers are looking promising.
The Texas deer population managed to avoid major losses during the winter's crippling storm, but Alan Cain, white-tailed deer program leader with Texas Parks and Wildlife, says it was the weather that followed allowing animals to thrive.
"We estimate to be around 5.4 million deer. And so lots of deer out there for the hunters to pursue, and a lot of opportunity out there," said Cain.
Last year's numbers were down a little bit but Cain says this year should continue the trend of slight growth over the past decade, and there should be plenty of deer to go around. Each year has generally been adding a few hundred thousand deer to the population. The prospects of a good season have hunters eager to get out in the fields.
"We've seen some, a lot of deer. Mainly a lot of doe right now but the bucks and stuff will be coming up from the river," said hunter Johnny Dodd. "So you know, all that will change and stuff whenever the rut kicks in."
Some hunters had concerns this season wouldn't get off the ground because of February's arctic freeze. According to Cain, the white-tailed deer were able to push through it without much of a problem.
"They can do well in these short-term cold-weather events," said Dodd. "Even though Texas doesn't normally see that sort of weather, white-tailed deer populations fared very well."
While the white-tails were able to handle the elements, more exotic species of deer like axis deer experienced large losses due to the cold. Despite the rocky start, experts say the weather is the main reason deer herds were able to thrive this year. The extra rain during the warmer months resulted in plenty of foraging food. Temperatures over the summer, though hot, were not as hot as they usually are. These factors helped keep does healthy, which in turn meant that they were able to raise strong fawns.
"More importantly, the bucks, which is what a lot of hunters are pursuing, were able to maximize their antler growth with the abundant forage and really good nutrition," said Cain.
So if you're looking to add another trophy to your wall, you may be in luck this year. With the fall hunting season, some hunters see it as a time to pursue their hobby. Others use it to gather with friends and family.
"We're looking forward to a really good year this year," said Dodd. "We always get, you know, a few deer and stuff out of there but mainly, you know, we enjoy actually visiting with all my sons and relatives and stuff when they come down."
If you're looking to learn more about hunting dates and regulations for all kinds of game in Texas, you can visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website. You can also check out our website for a full list of resources.