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Great Year For Deer!
Last summer was the driest on record in that region.
“Many old-timers said it was worse than the drought of the ‘50s,” said TPWD biologist David Synatzske, in Cotulla. “We experienced no grass production or seed production, virtually nonexistent forb production, many of the browse species failed to green up and those that did had virtually no new growth. In addition to the lack of vegetative production, perhaps the thing I noticed most was the complete lack of mast production.
“I cannot recall in the last 23 years a year where such total mast failure existed, even with virtually no prickly pear fruit production.”
However, pre-season rains filled up ponds from Encinal to Eagle Pass and the wild grounds grew green quickly. South Texas is like a jungle when the vegetation is thick, and so hunters reported seeing few deer early in the season. However, once the deer started rutting in December, things changed. Lots of bucks in the 130- to 150-class were reported with McMullen and Webb counties producing the most consistent hunting.
Another area that turned out some nice buck was the Coastal Prairies of South Texas around Port Mansfield, and the King Ranch south of Corpus Christi. If a hunter is fortunate enough to be able to hunt on the King Ranch itself, or some of the surrounding properties, seeing nice bucks is almost a guarantee.
“That stretch of coastline and the counties just west of there are highly underrated and not very publicized but I think that’s because you pretty much have to be rich or know someone down there to hunt it,” said Justin Tullier of Tomball.
“The lease prices are astronomical and the package hunts for trophy bucks start at around $5,000. You have to really want a buck to go that, but that area has them.”
In fact, the winning buck from this year’s highly coveted Los Cazadores Big-Buck Contest came from Hidalgo County, along the Rio Grande Corridor just west of Brownsville. The buck taken by David Coleman of Columbus, Miss., sported 23 points and tallied a Boone and Crockett score of 227 7/8. That’s a beast by anyone’s standards and anywhere it came from.
POST OAK SAVANNAH
However, the mast crop was down a bit, which aided antler hunters by forcing big bucks to get up and move around more. Even so, there were a few noteworthy bucks reported from the Post Oak, including a 174 2/8 non-typical shot in Leon County by Tery Bing. Another buck from that region fell to Carroll Moran. His buck’s rack showed obvious palmation and double drop tines. The Navarro County non-typical scored 179 4/8 inches.
TPWD biologists reported overall good harvest and a good number of quality bucks in the region.
Hunters in this area are facing increases in both development and areas that restrict hunting access. The human population is swelling from urban areas through suburbs right out into rural areas and into some formerly popular hunting areas. This trend will no doubt continue; conflicts between hunters and developers are likely to ensue.
Judging the area simply by driving through it could give hunters the wrong impression, as it doesn’t look like deer habitat as we are used to seeing it. But there’s more to the region than meets the eye. A combination of agriculture and hardwood bottoms along creek and river corridors produce quite a few head turning bucks ever season.
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