Thanksgiving has come and gone, and it seems as though most folks around our area fared well. Certainly there are exceptions to that, but for the most part things locally in the outdoors are good. Even with the drought curtailing food growth for the deer, they continue to feed mostly at night. That has been the case, in my experience, no mater the moon phase. Even so, there have been some really fine bucks taken in East Texas, which is nothing unusual. Their body condition is not as good because of the drought, but all in all they are not in bad shape.
Some of the reports that I have gotten from the Hill Country are that many of the deer are sporting less body fat than during wet years and less evidence of yearlings. This same area of Texas has spotty reports of hunter success. One would believe that when the Texas Hill Country is mentioned, there would be a more uniform number of folks with the same opinions concerning deer sightings. Also, there is a big discrepancy as to the animals’ body condition. The ranches where there was easily available water are sporting the better numbers as well as condition of the deer this season.
The annual rut has not yet begun in South Texas, where the traditionally large antlered bucks are taken. That will usually begin after Christmas and get even more intense in January. The reports that I have received have indicated that the free ranging animals did better than was expected. That doesn’t mean that the prolonged drought had no effect. It did, but the South Texas whitetails are accustomed to dry weather, and they survive very well.
The deer on high-fenced smaller ranches fared well with water. Let me say here that smaller ranches in South Texas, in my opinion, would be those five or six thousand acres or less. Not all of the ranches with high fences contained sources that were sufficient to sustain water during a long drought. On those ranches that ran dry, the deer suffered from the lack of sufficient water. Therefore, there were some die-offs as well as deer with poor body condition and smaller antlers. Thank goodness these ranches were not the norm.
The hunters that are most familiar with the rut in South Texas are looking forward to heading out. In order to hunt on those ranches, arrangements should have been made long before. In fact, some of the more expensive hunt ranches are booked years in advance.
Now it is time for a Christmas gift selection. Whether the Christmas gift will be for a hunter or fisherman, I’m sure that the giver will need to consider the longevity of the gift as well as the cost. My recommendation for a present that will be remembered for a lifetime is either a guided hunt or fishing trip.
First, the giver must know which trip the receiver would most likely prefer. Second, they need to have an idea of the amount of money that they will pay for the trip. It is also important when booking with either a guide or an outfitter that employs several guides to check out references. By doing that, you can get a good idea just how satisfied the former customers have been. You can also know if they would consider their trip excellent, good, fair or poor and whether they use that service again.
Whenever a guide or outfitter is contacted. find out exactly what they provide and what you will need to bring along. Ask how long the trip will last, and if there are food and lodging accommodations included. Will the fish or game be cleaned or will their be an extra charge for that? There are some hunting outfitters that offer guaranteed kills or at least fair shots at the preferred game animals. The latter are usually hunts for the does or female animals. No matter, the experience will be well worth the cost in most cases. Just be sure to check references before agreeing to anything.