Better Rains This Year Should Mean Healthier Bucks With Bigger Racks

Bow season is almost here for Texans (opens September 28) and Oklahoma’s bow opener is October 1. Reports from friends … Continued

Bow season is almost here for Texans (opens September 28) and Oklahoma’s bow opener is October 1. Reports from friends across the region are that some great bucks are hitting corn feeders regularly, while others report there is so much good native feed that most deer are ignoring the feeders. So it depends on your location. The accompanying photo is a fine old 10-point mule deer in the Texas Panhandle. From what I’ve seen and others have reported, mule deer are still in full velvet while virtually all whitetails are stripped and polished up.

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Here are two reports from experts on their expectations for this season. One is from the Panhandle and the other from South Texas.

Oren Don Molloy runs Plaska Lodge in the eastern Texas Panhandle. He’s been outfitting hunts for 19 years there for whitetails, mule deer, hogs and turkeys. Every year his clients shoot some super bucks and giant hogs. I asked him to share his outlook for big racks this fall.

“Things look good this year. Probably the best the land and habitat has looked in 2-3 years. We’ve caught rain in our region that other places have missed. Tanks that were dry last year have water and the grass is tall, although it is starting to dry out now.

I’ve already seen a couple of 160-class bucks on my trail cameras. Everything is so green right now the bucks do not have to move far, so I’m sure there are some bucks I have not seen on camera yet. It looks like a good fawn crop this year. Virtually every mule deer doe I have seen has had twin fawns and about 80 percent of the whitetail does have twins.”

Robert Sanders manages the Temple Ranch in South Texas near Freer. Here are his thoughts on the season ahead.

“The habitat conditions in south Texas are much better right now due to recent rains than they were at this time last year. Some ranches have received considerably more rainfall than others, but for the most part everyone is very green right now. Succulent weeds and new growth on our high quality brush species are the main diet of deer right now. Ranches supplemental feeding are having very little consumption , can’t compete with Mother Nature’s groceries. Opening weekend of bow season might be slow around corn feeders because of the abundant natural browse available at this time.

With that said, bucks will go into the rut in great body condition. Antlers will be above average due to generous May rainfall last spring. Hunters who gave mid-age bucks a pass last year that had potential will probably be pleasantly surprised as those bucks added bone. Fawn recruitment should be above average this year since there was good ground cover when the fawns hit the ground, to aid in minimizing predation. Quail numbers are also up this year.”