Ladies and gentleman, the day has finally arrived! Tomorrow is opening day of whitetail deer season here in Texas and it feels like Christmas morning. I took the day off from work on Friday to come out early and spend the day setting up my blind and checking (and rechecking) my gear. This is my eighth whitetail season and by all estimates, it might very well our worst. As you may have heard, Texas is experiencing a serious drought and my ranch has not been exempt from those conditions. Our ponds are dry, there is no grass to speak of, and the acorn crop is slim out in my neck of the woods. But there’s always a silver lining in these types of situations…
My ranch is within about a five mile radius of The Tierra Linda Ranch. TL is a 3000-acre ranch that stopped hunting of all forms around thirty years ago once they started subdividing the ranch. Until recently, their wildlife management practices were less than stellar. As such, the whitetail population absolutely exploded in the area. Once they overpopulated the TL ranch, they started moving out and doing the same to the neighboring ranches. People who come to visit our ranch are always amazed at the sheer volume of deer we have here. Just driving around could net you no less than a dozen shot opportunities. It isn’t unheard of to see fifteen deer under a feeder competing for food.
Around the same time that the TL ranch was killing off hunting (pun completely intended), nearby trophy ranches introduced black buck antelope and axis deer as an alternative for their big game hunters. In my opinion they are far superior species. Both species breed more frequently, yield more meat and are much more robust. Not to mention the fact that they are absolutely beautiful.
That resistance to drought and food scarcity is what’s making this season so very exciting. In past seasons, the whitetail have run the axis and antelope off. Fortunately, this drought has decimated the whitetail populations (back to sustainable numbers), and let the axis and antelope gain a bit of market share.
During my scouting today with my Konus scope, I spotted at least five axis and two small herds of antelope. I actually saw more exotics today than I saw whitetail! I think we’ll look back in five years and see this drought as a bit of blessing in disguise when it comes to the wildlife populations. I’m hoping that we’ll see a better mix of exotics as well as larger whitetail in the coming years as the populations rebound.
Either way, there’s very little action from the moon tonight, we’re forecasted to have temps below freezing at sunrise and a very light breeze. Keep me in your thoughts!