AUSTIN, Texas — Hunting is deeply engrained into Texas DNA and on Saturday, general white-tailed deer hunting season begins. However, there are a couple of things that hunters should know going into this season.
Texas has seen dry conditions for months, and that's impacting every aspect of the state. One of the changes is the state of our wooded areas. The dry weather means vegetation is limited and the weeds and native plants white-tailed deer usually eat are scarce.
"The drought affected their [deer] body weight, body condition," said Alan Cain with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). "It's probably going to be down a little bit. They're just not able to add the fat reserves they typically would in a wet year."
The deer's antlers are also not growing like they usually do.
"Its [antlers] might be 10 inches smaller than what you might see in a normal year," Cain said.
And because food is scarce, Cain predicts hunters will see more animals visiting feeders. Feeders usually contain corn and are used as a hunting tactic.
"If it's really dry, success rates could increase for hunters as deer frequent these feeders," Cain said. "Deer frequent these feeders more often than ... in wet years. In wet years, you may see a dip in the overall harvest across the state."
Cain encourages landowners to take care of their land because it will provide the necessary nutrition for these animals to stay healthy and maximize their antler growth.
But, in the end, this is a circular process. So while we work to keep these animals healthy, hunting season helps manage the state's population.
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