As we approach the half way point of the Texas Hill Country Rifle season for Whitetail Deer I though it would be a good idea to update folks on what the Armadillo Times crew has been seeing this year in the field. If you recall I wrote an article last June speculating as to the possible effects that the drought would have on this deer hunting season. In that article I wrote that we expected to see lots of deer at the feeders (due to the lack of natural forage) and we suspected that perhaps antler sizes would be down along with the deer just not being in very good shape physically.
Normally we don’t have significant numbers of deer coming into the feeders until the deer have finished with the acorns and the cold weather has taken care of the rest of their normal diet foodstuffs. Well I can tell you the deer have really been coming into the feeders. Morning and afternoon; just like clockwork… the feeder goes off and they come running. As suspected overall antler size is down from what we are used to seeing; not terrible though.
At the beginning of the season most of the deer just looked terrible. They looked skinny and rundown. Since the beginning of season we have received almost three inches of rain which actually “greened” up the pastures a little and as such the deer are looking better overall. The most alarming thing is the lack of fawns…. in 4 weekends I have seen a total of 1 fawn. This will really put a gap in the available mature deer 3 to 5 years from now.
We finally took our first deer this past weekend with 1 buck and 1 doe taken. The 2 deer shot were in OK shape, but when we field dressed them there was absolutely no fat at all. Fat is essential to carrying deer through lean times like the rut and winter. The drought has already subjected the deer to lean times which means we will probably have to feed year around until the drought totally breaks or risk losing significant numbers. Personally; this writer has not taken a single deer yet. I told the landowner last saturday “I’m either going to have to lower my expectations or just not take any deer this year”, to which he replied “better to take them now or they will starve to death before spring”. Ultimately he is correct… maybe I will take one next weekend…