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White-tailed deer numbers high as hunters gear up

White-tailed deer season will be one for the books, according to predictions from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The archery-only season kicks off fall deer hunting Oct. 2. A little over a month later, on Nov. 6, general season opens and runs through Jan. 2 in the Highland Lakes.

White-tailed deer forecasts are driven by habitat conditions eight to 10 months before hunting season. Last year, the deer population was estimated at 5.4 million. Fawn counts and the carryover from last year should show a substantial increase in the overall population this year.

“Though the end of 2020 was dry, and early 2021 experienced freezing conditions that delayed green up of important browse plants, the late spring and summer rainfall acted like liquid fertilizer for forb, grass, and woody plant production,” said Alan Cain, TPWD White-Tailed Deer Program leader. “(It) has provided a buffet of natural forages for deer.”

Favorable habitat boosts the body condition of deer, enabling them to enter the winter months with a substantial layer of fat. Favorable weather conditions also are vital in helping bucks maximize antlers as they finish out the growing season. Antler quality is predicted to be well above average for the 2021-22 season.

A special youth-only gun deer season is Oct. 30-31 and Jan. 3-16, 2022. For additional late season deer hunting opportunities, county-specific regulations, and information on how to properly tag and report a harvest, consult the 2021-22 Outdoor Annual.

Archery hunters are required to purchase an Archery Endorsement in addition to their hunting license. Hunters taking advantage of Texas Public Hunting Lands must also have the Annual Public Hunting Permit. Public land hunters should consult the Public Hunting Lands Map Booklet to review regulations that apply to specific areas. The My Texas Hunt Harvest app can be used to complete on-site registration electronically at a public hunting area.

Hunters are reminded to review information on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) for information about testing requirements and carcass movement restrictions in the CWD zones for the 2021-22 season. Discovery of new cases of CWD in Hunt, Lubbock, and Uvalde counties has prompted TPWD to establish new containment and surveillance zones in those areas to mitigate the potential spread of the disease.

Those interested in learning more about archery and bowhunting, or anyone who is looking to brush up on their skills ahead of the season are encouraged to explore Bowhunter by Fall, a newsletter series presented by TPWD’s Community Archery Program.

editor@thepicayune.com

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