Texas eyes changes to deer hunting season
Thursday, January 04, 2018
Partly due to demand from the general hunting community, officials in Texas are looking at adjusting the dates for deer season in most of the state. If they go through with the changes, some hunters in the Lone Star State might get to enjoy a longer rifle deer season when the 2018-19 hunting season rolls around.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) currently divides the state into a South Zone, which consists of all or part of 30 counties in South Texas; and a North Zone, which contains all or part of 226 counties in the rest of the state. The general deer season in both zones begins on the first Saturday in November (which was Nov. 4 this season).
However, the general deer season currently ends on the first Sunday in January (which is Jan. 7 this season) in the North Zone, but lasts until the third Sunday in January (which is Jan. 21 this season) in the South Zone. This means hunters in South Texas have two more weeks of deer hunting than the rest of the state.
Home to the King Ranch and the famous "Muy Grande Deer Contest" in Freer, Texas, the South Zone contains some of the best whitetail hunting in the state. For this reason, some hunters outside of the South Zone have resented the longer deer season in the region and viewed it as an unfair accommodation to South Texas because so many wealthy and politically connected people hunt there.
So, hunters in the rest of Texas recently submitted a petition to TPWD to make the general deer season dates uniform for the entire state. After reviewing the petition, TPWD is seriously considering extending the general deer season in the North Zone by an additional two weeks so that it ends on the same date as the South Zone.
The muzzleloader, youth and special late deer seasons currently begin right after the general season ends. An adjustment to the general deer season dates in the North Zone would result in these seasons getting pushed back into late January and early February.
However, opponents of this change argue that this might result in some problems. For instance, since bucks start shedding their antlers in late January and early February in Texas, extending the deer season might potentially result in some hunters accidentally shooting bucks that have shed their antlers after mistaking them for does.
It's unclear how much of a problem this would be, though, because these special late season hunts have been occurring during late January and February in the South Zone of Texas for over a decade now without many complaints from hunters in that region.
Alan Cain, who is the TPWD whitetail deer program leader, has stated that there is no biological reason for the North and South Zones to have different deer seasons and that extending the North Zone deer season would probably not result in a significant increase in the deer harvest. The proposed new hunting regulations would not change the bag limits for deer anywhere in the state and would not affect the current archery season dates.
Officials in Texas will consider the issue during a Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting in March. If they decide to go forward with the proposed new deer season dates, you might just get an additional two weeks to hunt deer starting during the 2018-19 deer season depending on where you do most of your hunting.
Stay tuned to see how things turn out on that front.
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