Texas

Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Texas Asks Hunters for Help in the Drought

The worst single-year drought in Texas history has left deer undernourished and, in some cases, dying in greater numbers than before. Many of the deer hunters are bringing home are skinnier than normal and the population of fawns surviving through the summer took a nosedive in many parts of the state.

Mose Buchele / StateImpact Texas

This deer may be hungier than usual in the drought.

At McBrides Gun’s in Austin, Thomas Hunt is looking for the perfect rifle to take his son Mathew out hunting. The appropriately-named Hunt has already bagged two deer this year. He says the impact of the drought was noticeable right away.

“The same deer that we saw last year has had bigger horns last year than they had this year,” he said. “I’ve had one that was a very large — probably 14 point — that was a 10 point this year. So we’ve seen that much reduction in the horn size.”

Allen Cain, deer program leader with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, said the legacy of the drought could be with us for years.

“Obviously hunters are not harvesting fawns, so it’s not a big impact as far as harvest this year. What’ll happen is you’ll see that impact four or five years down the road,” said Cain.

Despite the toll the drought has taken, Cain hopes hunters bring home a lot of deer this year. The reason? As distressed as some deer populations are, Texas’ habitat is in even greater distress, and too many deer foraging in a drought-stricken landscape can severely damage the ecosystem.

“Especially during drought, it’s likely to do more damage to that habitat which can also impact other species that aren’t hunted like songbirds, to whatever else out there,” said Cain.

An uptick in deer hunting would also be good for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The Department has seen a drop in revenue as park attendance and fishing licenses have been down dramatically in the drought.

Back at McBrides Gun Shop in Austin, Thomas Hunt says he’s also seen fewer bird hunters this year.

“I don’t think the duck hunting has been as good and all the duck hunting has been pushed to the coast. All the ponds on our place are dry,” said Hunt.

If you’re looking for a silver lining, another species that has a seriously negative impact on the land, feral hogs, also appears to be down in the drought.

Comments

  • Bulls-eye.  This story hit the exact reason most people hunt deer:  Trophy collecting.  Instead of some comment about how the deer this year are leaner/less meaty than in previous years, the profiled hunter mentioned only the size of the antlers. Killing a deer in the name of conservation?  After the hunt, this same hunter probably drove his monster truck (12 mpg) home and turned on his lawn sprinklers while he splashed in his 50,000 gallon outdoor swimming pool.  And one more thing about this story that pushed my button was the comment that an increase in deer hunting would be good for the state’s wildlife department finances (presumably because of increased revenue from the sale of hunting licenses/deer tags).  Support your local government:  Kill something.

    • What’s Wrong With You?

      Are there any references or science to support these theories or are these just your childishly absurd assertions? Could you also explain why you would prefer the deer to starve to death while also damaging the local ecosystem?

    • Jack Long

      WOW!!! 12 MPG in a monster truck? Mine only gets 6.

    • Just in Case

      You’re absolutely right Al. It’s time to take a stand and let the politicians know that most Texas citizens prefer to ban hunting totally and be overrun with malnourished and diseased deer. Hahahahahahahaha.

    • Kaspar Joey

      Al, I understand your anger and I’m just as anti-monster truck/over consumption etc. as you, but I do have to speak-up for responsible hunters out there (like myself) that do monitor antler size from year to year. Antler size has a direct correlation with the amount of protein that a deer has access to during the several months before deer season.   Responsible hunters never shot young deer, and use male’s antler’s growth to monitor the health of the entire population.  It’s nearly impossible to monitor the health of the deer using does b/c you cannot easily distinguish them from other doe. Male deer’s antler are unique from other males antlers, and are the best way to determine and watch their progression over the years.  I will say, that there is a strong possibility that the hunter was only concerned about the trophy of the deer, but my guess is that he’s not.  This is b/c he allowed a 14-point to remain alive last year, rather than being gun happy and killing him last year.  As for the comments about raising money for the state by selling licenses etc.. it’s true.  I was approached by the wildlife biologist that helps me (and my family) decide what is a healthy amount of deer to harvest from our land each season.  He gave us permission/30 additional licenses to kill doe (only) to help curb the deer population next year.  The starvation rate of deer will only increase in the next few years (b/c as the article states, the problem is going to worsen.) At least if the state were able to earn more money through paid licenses rather than special cases like mine, the money could be put toward more land conservation, restoration, or reserves.  What deserves the most criticism in this story is the journalist’s lack of thoroughness and leading conscientious readers like yourself to believe that these measures are backwards and harmful.

  • Mwood067

    This might have been an interesting story, but the atrocious grammar sidelined my attention. I see this inattention to proper grammar on Yahoo News and other online sources, as well. And, it’s not just the written word. If the quotations noted are correct, the way that people speak is changing, as well, and not in a positive way. How is this good journalism?!

    • Freewaybaby77802

      Really!!!!  Even closed captions on t.v. correct moronic grammer most of the time. Too bad, I think.  Thankfully, I hear well enough not the HAVE to use closed captions; it’s just easier with the way people talk to sometimes depend on the “translation”.  But, those who ONLY read the cc, don’t get to laugh at the idiots “conversating”!!! LOL

  • franspace50

    Deer herds on my Texas land don’t need culling, there are very few left. I am hoping for a comeback. I miss seeing the small herd that used to bed down about 300 feet from my home. I understand the impact on the environment if there are too many in an area but I am wondering just how much of Texas now actually has enough to be concerned about, so many of them perished.

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