Will The Texas Hill Country Drought Impact Deer Hunting?

We just can’t get a break down here in Texas, at least as far as the weather is concerned. 3 of the last 4 years have been drought years in the Hill Country and Southern regions of the state, with this year being classified as “exceptional”, which is the most severe rating. Temperatures or running above average and wildfires in the state have destroyed many acres of wildlife habitat along with significant personal property. Right around the 1st of October 2010 it just pretty much quit raining, and at this point in the year the official numbers out of San Antonio are 5.61″ of rainfall YTD against an average of 16.37″. Needless to say range conditions are the worst I have seen them.

The big question for the Armadillo times crew is “what is the drought’s impact to the 2011 whitetail deer hunting season?” Well, based on last year’s fawn crop and last year’s rainfall numbers, which were both OK, I still expect to see good numbers of Whitetails. My concern with the lack of rainfall is that antler size will be down and overall deer quality will be down. Lack of rainfall puts added pressure on the native habitat to sustain wildlife populations and usually during these times we concentrate on supplemental feeding and trying to fill all of our tags as part of an overall ranch and whitetail management plan.

Deer Feeder for Supplemental Feeding

We normally do not start our supplemental feeding program until mid-August, but this year we are starting the first week in July. We will be feeding a corn and yellow pea mix to provide some additional protein and hopefully help carry them through the summer. We will continue this program right through the end of January 2012 at least… unless this drought condition does not improve, at which time we may decide to just keep feeding in an effort to preserve our 2012 fawn crop.

So… will the drought impact the 2011 hunting season? The short answer is yes, unfortunately. We expect to see good numbers of whitetail deer at the feeders as there was a decent fawn crop last year coupled with an overall lack of natural forage present. The bad news is we expect antler size to be down and we are anticipating they won’t be in great physical shape either. To combat the impacts of the drought on our ranch we will ramp up our supplemental feeding program and, when the time comes,┬ámake every effort to fill all of our tags. Would love to hear what you think or what you’re seeing on your ranches/leases!

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5 Responses to Will The Texas Hill Country Drought Impact Deer Hunting?

  1. barbaralbb says:

    Read with interest your article on the impact of this drought on the 2011 Hunting Season. In it you mention feeding both corn and “yellow pea mix”. That is new to us in the area south of Stephenville. Googled it and could find no information what it is or where to purchase. Can you provide any additional information? We have just started putting our what is called “Deer Corn” down here, but would be interested in additional sources of healthy protein, as the pastures are cooked and crunch when you walk on them….. Thanks for any information you can provide.

    • admin says:

      Barb, I found this mix at http://mummesinc.com/ in Hondo, TX. It is more expensive than regular deer corn and less expensive than protein pellets. I wanted to give them more protein than straight corn but didn’t want to pay the exorbitant prices for straight protein so I chose this mix.

  2. joey says:

    at the coop in eden, record rack with 20% protein is only 3.50 a sack more than regular corn and imho is definitely worth the price. I have 1500 acres and have been putting out 4 tons a month since mid january….they eat it faster but that is all i can afford. will start filling my regular feeders (5) with corn and throw 8 seconds twice a day until january. i hope what i am doing helps.

  3. Randy Stanford says:

    Our 620 acre lease is located south of Comanche, TX off Hwy 16. We have been feeding (on demand) protein out of two feeders and corn out of 4 feeders. In my opinion, there is no way we can supplement enough of what the good Lord normally supplies, but we are trying to do our best. We are starting up the rest of our corn feeders this weekend, and, if surrounding leases are doing their part, we might be able to help the deer make it through this drought. Of course, a good deer management plan is in place, and we will need to be very aggressive in controlling the doe and scrub buck population to help. Still, this is now the worst drought on record, and only getting worse.

  4. Mike M says:

    We have a 400 acre lease in Mason County near the Llano River. We have 3 protein and 7 corn feeders and have been feeding year round (Yes its @&%*# expensive!) We have noticed lots of game at feeders but they are in very poor condition. The antlers reflect the drought as well. Been difficult to keep feed in feeders due to the varmit population!! Have used every means to keep them away but not having much success. Decided not to take out culls this year because of the poor antler growth. Will fill tags with Does this year. Think were are going to hunt Raccoons and squirrels this year too lo!!

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