Hunting is a popular past time in Texas, and its most popular form is deer hunting. The numbers a quite astounding, with hunting and fishing being a $14.4 billion industry in the state, and deer hunting alone accounting for $2.2 billion of this figure.
Texans enjoy their hunting.
The most popular animal to hunt, both in Texas and the US overall, is the whitetail deer. There’s an estimated 30 million of them in the US, and about 4 million in Texas alone. Early in the century, the whitetail deer was endangered, but thanks to conservation policies demanded by hunters and environmentalists (strange bedfellows), the whitetail deer is now thriving, and is even over carrying capacity in some areas (creating quite a nuisance for farmers).
About the Whitetail Deer
The Whitetail deer is a woodland species that lives over a vast area stretching from Canada to Peru, staying mostly on the east side of the American continent. They weight 130- 230 lb, and have telltale white fur around their eyes, nose, stomachs, and the underside of their tail (which they use to signal danger).
Some fun facts:
They are excellent fence jumpers.
Their heads can turn almost 360 degrees.
They have antlers that they lose in January, and grow again in the summer. How big they get depends on how plentiful food is.
They produce many different scents to communicate with each other, including a rather offensive one when they sense danger.
What You’ll Need:
A Texas whitetail deer hunt usually lasts a few days to over a week, so you will need to be adequately supplied. Some things you will need:
1) You Weapon. Obviously if you are hunting, you will need a way to score the kill. Different hunters use different weapons. Archery season usually begins before fire arms season does, giving archers a head start. Rifles, pistols, and other firearms are all often used to hunt whitetail deer that are generally easier to take down than other forms of big game.
2) Warm, dry clothing. Extra points for being camouflaged.
3) An adequate supply of water and food.
4) A fully stocked outdoor survival kit.
5) Some lures or bait, such as corn or oats, to attract the deer.
You may also consider scouting an area before the season begins. Experienced hunters often place video cameras in a hunting ground before hand, to get an idea of how and where the deer move. You may also want to build tree stands or ground blinds, to give you cover while hunting.
Check the sights on your rifles to make sure they shoot straight before beginning a hunting expedition.
“The rut”, aka Mating Season
Hunters often prefer to hunt deer during their mating season. During this time, the deer are on the move, and the bucks (the males) tend to lose all caution when sensing that a receptive female is in the area (imagine that).
In Texas, mating season differs across the state, from September to November in the northern prairies and marshes, to November to January in the south Texas plains.
Methods of Hunting Whitetail Deer
Here are the 5 forms of hunting commonly used when hunting Texas whitetail deer:
1) Stand Hunting- the most common way to hunt deer. This is where you find a place deer are likely to travel through, and wait. It’s good to find some cover, either in a tree or behind something on the ground.
2) Still Hunting- this is where you walk through the woods or a field, looking for deer. You can stop, wait for a while, and start again. The Elmer Fudd method.
3) Deer Driving- hunters form two lines 100-150 yards apart, and walk towards each other. The hope is to push a deer towards one of the lines by scaring them from the other side.
4) Spot and Stalk- this is where you spot a deer and stealthy move in close enough to take a shot. For this method you need large, visible areas, such as mountains or open fields.
5) Dog Hunting- this is where hunters form a perimeter and release dogs, hoping they chase the deer towards them. Shotguns with Buckshots are often used with this method.
Some final tips:
Whitetail deer produce many scents, some detectable to the human nose. Learning to recognize these will help you.
As you may have guessed, with their use of scents to communicate, these deer have a highly-developed sense of smell. You’ll want to hunt with the wind facing you, to reduce the chance of them smelling you.
They will produce an offensive odor and stomp their hooves when they sense danger.
Deer can sometimes be baited with corn or oats.
FOR RELATED ARTICLES, CHECK OUT MONTANA ELK HUNTING.
Good luck and stay prepared!