It’s hard to believe that most hunting seasons are already winding down. It seems to me that only a few days ago, the big discussions were what kind of shape the deer country was in. Along with that was the question of animal condition after the drought a year ago. Many of the predictions of doom and gloom were not supported. There was ample rainfall during the right time to supply ample forage for the deer in most areas. There was also a super crop of acorns, and the whitetails will feed on them until they become rotten or all of them have been consumed.
The early whitetail season was somewhat slow due to the abundant acorn crop. Most of the lease holders or landowners that set out trail cameras saw lots of deer of all ages out feeding at night. Deer are normally nocturnal, but during the rut and when food is scarce, they will move around more during the daylight hours.
In the brush country of Texas, the rut usually begins in earnest after Christmas and runs until the season’s end in January. In fact, the folks that go after the trophy antlered bucks in South Texas don’t normally head out until after Christmas.
The whitetails in East Texas and in the Hill Country normally are going in full rut in October and early November. That situation is ideal for archers, but the rifle hunters will need to do a little more searching, especially in East Texas. After the first couple weeks in November, many East Texas hunters fail to even see any deer. Certainly that is not a rule chiseled in stone, but my experience has been just that situation.
Another thing that I have observed mostly in the Hill Country but some in East Texas also is a secondary rut. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, some recent trail camera photos revealed some bucks with big necks and dark pads on their lower hind legs. Most of the folks that are still taking deer in both East Texas and the Hill Country are spending much time in the woods. Sooner or later, it would seem something would move a buck in that direction. Free ranging dogs that are illegal, coyotes and other hunters are also sometimes the deer movers.
For late season hunting, especially in public open lease areas, it could be a better choice not to hunt from a constructed stand. Should there have been any hunting pressure in the area, the deer will avoid the stands. That’s especially the case if there have been some other hunters shooting from the blinds.
In many hunt areas, especially day leases, you might be restricted to remaining in an assigned blind. Should that not be the case, then I recommend locating deer trails that have been heavily used recently and set up in some natural growth nearby. Remember to hide downwind from the heavily used crossings. I also recommend scattering some corn there. Even if the deer are only going by, many times the corn will stop them just out of curiosity. I’ve found that this techniques works wonders, especially in the Hill Country.
It has long been amazing to me why more of our local whitetail hunters do not choose to head to the east and check out some of that action. There are people with kinfolk in both Louisiana and Mississippi who enjoy some really great hunting. In doing some research, I have found that the deer populations in both Louisiana and Mississippi are up. Many of the folks that hunt in the northern parts of Louisiana are taking some really heavy antlered bucks. Their body weights are much larger than most of our Texas deer.
Mississippi has a deer population that rivals Texas in a per-acre survey. Their rutting time is much as it is in South Texas. Most of the private land is hunted by hunting clubs or by the families that own the land. There are several plantations that are offering day hunts for trophy managed deer. The deer are big, and so are the antlers. A four and a half year old buck will likely weight in the high 200 pound range or more. The does in the 160 to 170 pound range are not uncommon. Antler measurements of 160 Boone and Crocket points and even larger are also taken fairly consistently. The restrictions for most areas are not as strict as they are on trophy ranches. Ross McGehee operates a hunting plantation just 5 miles out of Natchez Mississippi, and he offers some great hunts. The Washes Plantation may be contacted at (601) 431-6881.