Whitetail Hunting photo

For Texans, October 3 is when the chaos begins. Archery whitetail season opens statewide, fall archery turkey season opens in most counties, archery mule deer season opens in many counties, on ranches under the MLDP Program (Managed Land Deer Permits) rifle hunting for whitetails can begin, pronghorn season opens and of course exotics and hogs can be hunted year-round. That leads to lots of opportunities and not enough time to do them all!

I guess I’m a man with too many interests. I’ve got a few nice whitetail bucks on camera, like the ones in the accompanying photo sparring by my corn feeder, but no monsters have showed up yet. I’d rather keep my scent out of there until a jumbo shows up on trail camera, then make my move.

While most Texans are focused on whitetails, I’ve got a pronghorn permit in my pocket. Come opening day, I’ll be glassing rolling hills dotted with sage and yucca in the northwestern Texas Panhandle. Pronghorns rut in late September and in to early October. It’s an exciting time, watching big black-faced antelope bucks chase does like a cutting horse. Decoys are effective. Two years ago I decoyed in a fine 14-inch buck from 300 yards away. He charged my dink buck decoy and gave me a 51 yard bow shot. Last year, an even bigger buck responded to the decoy, but stalled at 108 yards. He realized something wasn’t right and turned and ran for the neighbor’s boundary fence! We never saw that buck again, although I did shoot a different buck with a rifle later that same day.

Aoudad sheep are wild and free-ranging where I live. The peak of their rut is in October. A big, mature ram weighs 300 pounds and in the rut he has an attitude like a barroom bully. Two rams smashing heads makes a crack as loud as a car crash, echoing down the canyon walls. I’ve got a couple of big rams on trail cameras, so I have to set aside time for them in October.

Very few Texans hunt mule deer in October. That’s for two reasons. First, access to hunt mule deer is limited. Second, most archery hunters in Texas would rather hunt whitetails. In early October, Panhandle mule deer are patternable hitting crops like milo or corn. In West Texas, you might ambush one at a windmill. Come November and the rifle season, there will be far more pressure on the big-eared deer, so I have to find time for mulies too.

So much to do and so little time. But whose complaining, right? The time of year we all long for is finally here, so get out there and get you some!