The general whitetail season started 30 minutes before sunrise today and will last until 30 minutes after sunrise on January 17, or January 3, depending on the zone.
For whitetail, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) divides the state into a north and south zone at San Antonio along Highway 90. The southern zone, less populated, enjoys general deer season all the way to January 17 while the northern season ends on January 3. Youth-only season lasts to January 17 all around the state.
Ninety of Texas’ 254 counties have a special muzzleloader season that lasts two weeks in early January. For all but two counties, archery whitetail season just ended yesterday.
In a media release, TPWD experts predicted a fruitful season. Full and frequent September rains should make for higher and heavier deer populations, especially in the Edwards Plateau where the deer population outranks all other regions in the state.
“Hunters in the Edwards Plateau, Cross Timbers and South Texas eco-regions can expect some of the best conditions,” said Alan Cain, the TPWD whiteailed deer program leader. “If dry conditions persist, hunters could expect to see increased deer activity around feeders or other key food sources.”
Biologists also expect good whitetail harvests in the Cross Timbers region, a rough border between the woods of the east and the plains of the west that stretches down from Oklahoma to the Colorado River. The region has the second highest deer population in the state and has yielded high fawn production for years.
Texas hunters seem ready to rise to the occasion, with TPWD reporting a slight uptick in hunting license sales this year.
Certain counties enforce antler restrictions, limiting hunters to one buck with an inside spread — measured from ear-tip to ear-tip when the ears are perked — of 13 inches or greater per bag limit. These counties define legal buck deer as bucks with at least one unbranched antler or an inside spread of 13 inches or more. For tagging purposes, TPWD defines buck deer as deer with a hardened antler protruding through the skin, even if the antler is still in velvet. All other deer, even males, are antlerless, which can mean mandatory harvest reporting in several counties.
Between killing a deer and dressing it, TPWD requires hunters to tag the deer. Hunters can donate field-dressed deer to Hunters for the Hungry, a hunger-relief organization in which participating deer processors donate the venison to food banks.
Fall turkey season also begins today.
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