Game & Fish
You Are Here:  Game & Fish >> Texas >> Hunting >>Whitetail Deer Hunting
Hunting For Acorns
Many hunters bewail the years when the acorn crop is abundant. That may make it harder to find deer in food plots -- and you may actually have to hunt them! Here's how. ... [+] Full Article
>> Texas' 2005 Deer Outlook Part 1: Our Top Hunting Areas
>> Texas' 2005 Deer Outlook Part 2: Our Top Trophy Areas
>> South Texas Trophies
>> Texas Sportsman Home
photo of the week
This Week's Photo:
Look who bagged a 160-pound black bear during a hunt near Kokadjo, Maine, near Moosehead Lake...
[+] Enlarge Photo

Get A Grip On Frog-Lure Fishing!

[+] MORE
>> Top Fishing Lures For 2008
>> 5 Great Catfish Baits
>> Power Tactics For Papermouths
>> Flashers & Flies Fit For Kings
North American Whitetail
North American Whitetail
A magazine designed for the serious trophy-deer hunter. [+] See It
>> Petersen's Hunting
>> Petersen's Bowhunting
>> Wildfowl
>> Gun Dog
Shallow Water Angler
Shallow Water Angler
The nation's only publication dedicated to inshore fishing, covering waters from Texas to Maine. [+] See It
>> In-Fisherman
>> Florida Sportsman
>> Fly Fisherman
>> Game & Fish
>> Walleye In-sider
Guns & Ammo
Guns & Ammo
The preeminent firearms magazine: Hunting, shooting, cowboy action, reviews, technical material and more. [+] See It
>> Shooting Times
>> RifleShooter
>> Handguns
>> Shotgun News
Texas Sportsman
Trophy Or Cull?

For years either my brother David or I would shoot the largest deer taken on that ranch each season. I just finished comparing some of those bucks to the management deer that I've shot in the last couple of seasons. The difference? Astounding. The animals that I was so proud of 25 years ago now look rather scrawny. The management bucks of the better ranches are now much larger than the trophy bucks I shot a couple of decades ago. The reason: improved deer management techniques.

That same ranch was sold, and all my old rancher friends have passed on to greener pastures. The ranch is now ringed by a high fence and is strenuously managed for top-quality deer. Under the new management system, the same sort of deer that I was so proud of all those years ago is being culled.

In the last 30 years, we -- meaning the deer hunting community in general -- have learned a great deal about the genetics of deer and about managing our land for fostering larger specimens. On most ranches, the object is to raise bucks with large antlers. Such an objective doesn't necessarily lead to more deer roaming the place; in fact, it's usually quite the opposite.

continue article

Deer and livestock must be kept at a level not destructive to the forage base, so the deer can obtain adequate nutrition. The ideal number of animals will vary in each part of the state. In the Hill Country, part norms saw landowners raise sheep and goats and let the deer take care of themselves; now, with deer hunting becoming such a cash machine, ranchers are willing to keep fewer sheep so that they can produce better deer -- and get more money for leases.

Also: As mentioned, such outdated management practices as the 8-point rule are now known to be ineffective. Almost any buck in its second year can grow a rack with 8 points or more, and in its third year may have a large 10-point rack. If that deer's shot at 3 1/2 years, it won't have fulfilled its potential, nor have passed its genes on to many sons and daughters.

Therefore, we must learn to age deer on the hoof and shoot only those deer that are fully mature, preferably those over 6 1/2, and certainly over 4 1/2, the age at which the 8-point rule becomes effective. But rather than kill only bucks carrying racks with 8 points or more, we today shoot mature bucks carrying racks with 8 points or less. Which would appear to demonstrate how backward we were a few years ago.

The moral here is that what many of us considered a trophy rack a couple of decades ago is now a rather mediocre head, and what we thought was good deer management actually was counterproductive. I still love the deer I shot, and their antlers, mounted on my wall, still bring back special memories of a simpler time. But since those golden days of yesteryear, deer hunting in Texas has matured and grown, transforming from quaint fall ritual into full-fledged mania.

Today, right now, in Texas, we are experiencing "the good old days." Deer hunting has never been as good as it is -- but I don't think that this happy state of affairs can last forever. So don't miss it!

page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

[Featured Title]
Shallow Water Angler  
Shallow Water Angler
The nation's only publication devoted to inshore fishing, covering waters from Texas to Maine.
 *See the Site
*Subscribe to the magazine
[Features From Shallow Water Angler]
>> Complete the Illusion
>> Make It a Mondo Mullet
>> Solitude & Shallows - Chandeleur Island
>> South Carolina Creates Second Inshore Reef
* Subscribe to the Shallow Water Angler
[All Titles]