Go Back

Woods, Waters and Wildlife

By John Jefferson

Photo by John Jefferson

There’s still time this season and there are still plenty of incredible bucks on the range. Don’t miss out!

By John Jefferson
Outdoor writer and photographer

Deer season happenings

In August, I contacted Alan Cain, TPWD’s capable white-tailed deer program leader, asking about deer season prospects. Cain expected an average year for quality of deer harvested (meaning antlers and body weights), and an above-average year for the number of deer harvested. That last part meant that Texas had plenty of deer – over four million – as previously reported.
Cain’s crystal ball didn’t include how balmy the opening weeks of deer season would be. Nor did he have any inkling of the rain Hurricane Harvey would drop on eastern, central, and some of South Texas.
Many of us knew the full moon was working against us opening weekend, but we, too, were in the dark about the warm weather and monsoon. We had hunted in Texas before, and knew to pack shorts and t-shirts in our war bags, and even mosquito repellent, but the rest of it was a surprise. Consequently, the harvest was down some at the start of the season.
That’s all past, now. Cold weather, frosts, and even snow have knocked back vegetation. It now looks like winter. Deer visibility is much better. The moon won’t be bright again until the end of the month. Our excuses are gone; now it’s up to us.
The deer that Alan Cain predicted are finally coming in. With over three weeks of hunting remaining in the north zone and five and a half weeks in the south, there’s still time to bag that buck.
Along with the deer, game violations are also mounting. In many cases, they’re just plumb stupid. One hunter told others he wasn’t going to tag a deer he had shot. Someone snitched. A warden came calling, and the perp said he had properly tagged it. The warden had already checked and saw he had purchased his license after he had posted a photo of the deer on social media. Numbers on hunting licenses tell when they are purchased. In addition to a fine, he lost a nice 10-pointer.
As far as the snitch, that happens a lot, too. A disgruntled relative once reported a man who poached a 170-class buck, and had shown pictures of it. In another case, a dude’s ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend called in the identity of the dude who killed a big, neighborhood “pet” deer in a subdivision a few years ago. Hell hath no fury …
A bloody box with an address label on it next to an untagged deer carcass in a dump recently led to a conviction. Some have illegally sold venison; 60 citations have been issued this season. And poachers still shoot “Bucky,” the wardens’ decoy buck. On Nov. 4 this season, a man stopped at night and shot at Bucky, then realized it was a decoy. He accelerated and drove off after being ordered by a warden to “Stop!” In addition to three hunting violations, he was charged with evading arrest.
Game crime doesn’t pay; it costs. Plenty!
To report poaching, call 1-(800) 892-GAME (4263).