It’s the big event – deer season is here

White Tail Deer

Finally the biggest event in Texas hunting is here – Saturday, Nov. 1, is the season opener on deer across the Lone Star state. It’s a fact that white-tailed deer hunting in Texas provides an opportunity for more than 800,000 hunters to go afield and harvest America’s most abundant big game animal. It’s also a fact that deer hunters annually contribute more than $2 billion to the Texas economy.

The season outlook is good, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department field reports. And as always, wildlife biologists encourage hunters to harvest antlerless deer to help with overall population management, an important component to maintaining quality native habitats for all wildlife.

With hundreds of thousands of Texans getting ready for opening day of the gun season on deer, it’s also important to keep safety in your crosshairs.

If you were born after Sept. 1, 1971, and this is going to be your first deer season, you must have completed a hunter education course or obtained a one-time deferral if you aren’t able to get into a course.

Right now is the time to go over the basic rules of gun safety, even if you’ve heard them a jillion times before. The big four are always making sure your rifle is pointed in a safe direction, always treat it like it was loaded, always make sure of your target before you shoot (use binoculars, not your rifle scope) and keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to pull it. You can’t call a bullet back, and it always has the right-of-way.

 

TPWD reminds hunters about proper deer carcass disposal

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reminds hunters throughout the state to properly dispose of carcasses from harvested deer to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases in deer.

“Because many hunters process their own deer, they are key players in slowing the spread of diseases such as CWD,” said Ryan Schoeneberg, big game program specialist with TPWD. “One possible way that disease can spread is by the transportation and improper disposal of carcass parts.”

Deer can become infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD) if they come into contact with other infected deer or an environment contaminated with CWD prions. While CWD prions are found ubiquitously throughout the body of an infected deer, they are known to accumulate in the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen and lymph nodes.

CWD was first found in Texas in Hudspeth and El Paso counties two years ago, and the disease appears to be limited to those remote areas thanks in large part to hunter diligence, restricting unnatural movement of deer, and ongoing measures to monitor and sample for evidence of the disease.

Hunters who harvest deer in the Containment Zone are required to present the unfrozen head of the deer to a designated check station within 24 hours of take in order to have tissue samples removed for CWD testing. Additionally, hunters in this area should not take whole deer carcasses out of the Containment Zone, or carcass parts that contain brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen or lymph nodes, according to Shawn Gray, mule deer program leader for TPWD. “We recommend hunters in the Containment Zone and High Risk Zone quarter deer in the field and leave all but the quarters, back straps and head at the site of harvest, if it is not possible to bury the inedible carcass parts on the ranch or take them to a landfill.”

Hunters are urged to follow these safe handling recommendations:

• Avoid cutting through bones, spine, or brain when processing deer carcasses.

• Remove meat in the field and leave the carcass behind. Bury it if possible.

• If processing harvested deer in camp or at home, place carcass parts in trash bags and properly dispose of them through a trash service or landfill.

• Take harvested deer to a licensed commercial processor to assure proper carcass disposal.

• For taxidermy work, use a licensed taxidermist to assure proper carcass disposal.

Safe Parts to Transport

• Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spine or head attached

• Hides or capes from which all excess tissue has been removed

• Antlers, including antlers attached to skull plates or skulls cleaned of all muscle and brain tissue

 

Pair convicted in illegal deer breeding operation

The latest chapter in a decade-long series of criminal and wildlife disease investigations involving a former South Texas deer breeder ended recently when a Corpus Christi area couple pleaded guilty to 50 charges of unlawful possession and/or sale of live game animals.

Frank Thomas Shumate Jr., 51, and Kalub Rogers Shumate, 31, were each assessed $14,127.50 in fines and agreed to surrender the ability to apply for a deer breeder permit or a hunting lease license for all time. Mr. Shumate also agreed to surrender his hunting license through the end of the 2015 license year, and Ms. Shumate through the end of the 2017 license year.

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