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.
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, make every effort to fill all of our tags. Would love to hear what you think or what you’re seeing on your ranches/leases!