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Thanks to everyone who wished me luck for opening weekend. I really do appreciate it. Unfortunately, luck didn’t seem to be on my side. Probably due to a lack of preparation on my part! Even though I didn’t get anything, I had an excellent weekend outside. And, to be fair, I had probably ten or fifteen spectacular shooting opportunities. I just chose not to take them for one reason or another…

As any of our Texas readers know, the entire state has been plagued by the worst drought in recent memory. My family’s land has suffered right along with our neighbors. Unfortunately for my neighbors, the fall hunting season is a MAJOR source of income. Ask Nick, who just dropped a couple Benjamins for the pleasure of being legal to hunt in Texas. And that’s just the state’s cut. My neighbors make thousands each season off of big city hunters coming out for their version of getting back to nature.

The hit has been twofold. Farmers and ranchers fed and watered more this year in the hopes of salvaging some health in the whitetail population. Corn prices were at high levels during the time of year when supplemental feeding could really help. Numbers on the participation in this year’s hunt haven’t been released, but anecdotal (gut) evidence suggests that out-of-town hunters weren’t making the trek to the Hill Country in their usual numbers this year. So high feed costs + a high volume of feeding – hunter participation = a bad year for Texas farmers and ranchers.

My own particular experience had both highs and lows. Like I mentioned in my preview, I saw a sizeable number of Black Buck antelope and Axis deer. I’m keeping the pressure off the Black Buck until they establish themselves at my ranch. For now, we have a small family with a two curl buck, young doe, and quickly growing yearling. They seem to be used to seeing vehicles and are content to graze and move about during the day.

I only saw axis on my place right after I arrived on the first day, and they were already over the fence by the time I had my gun out. I guess I should adopt this whole condition yellow thing when it comes to hunting! I did see some Axis does across the fence, but they seemed to be on the move the whole time. Hopefully, Nick and I will get a chance at one when he comes down in December.

And finally, the whitetail. The numbers were good – maybe down from last year just a bit. I’m seeing far fewer yearlings, though, which does not bode well for future seasons. The lack of water and extreme heat seem to have really taken their toll on the population. Also worth noting is that we don’t supplement feed our wild animals. The deer that are out are for the most part, free range, grass fed animals. I prefer this as it gives a very reliable feel for what’s out there. Plus think they taste better.

In this case, I have a few bucks running around with several herds of does. I saw groups of does from three up to eight. I only spotted one buck worth taking, an eight point with about a sixteen-inch spread. Unfortunately, he was on the move, as was I, and I was unable to snap any pictures. I would say the typical buck would field dress around ninety pounds and the typical doe would tip the scales around seventy pounds. Talk about some real NYC runway models!

I’m planning to head out once more before Nick heads this way. Hopefully we’ll get a cold front when he arrives and the action will present some good shots for him. Pray for your TTAG Mercy Killers.

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  1. I was thinking about this just the other day- never been a hunter, but I do keep an eye out for deer. The wife and kid and I went out to do some plinking Sunday- as we pulled onto our land, my daughter spotted a couple of deer- and, sure enough, there was an 8-10 pointer grazing not fifty feet from our “impact area”! There was a younger buck, and some does as well, and they didn’t stick around long. The kid was excited- she wanted me to shoot one, but I had to explain that I had neither a tag, nor an appropriate firearm along, so she was out of luck 🙂

  2. E. Tex isn’t much better. It have had 2 that I have shot be gotten by the coyotes. They were hit just before dark and I had to wait until morning to finish looking. Found the big blood stain and some fur, that’s it.

  3. My family business is whitetail deer consulting, and the most interesting phenomenon we’ve seen is that the drought seemed to have produced fewer, but bigger and stronger bucks. The only explanation that makes much sense is that it killed off the weaker ones, and when the rains came the strong that were left did remarkably well. All of the deer I’ve killed so far have been fat and healthy, with the exception of the ranches that tried to feed and water their way through the drought.

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