It’s never too early to get into the deer-hunting mode in Texas. The bow-hunting season opens Sept. 29, and the regular gun season in 239 counties opens Nov. 3. And don’t forget about the kids. The Special Youth Season is open Oct. 27-28. One thing is certain – now is the time to start getting your deer hunting gear in order.Deer hunting is Texas is big business. There are roughly 650,000 deer hunters in the Lone Star State. And you can bet the barn on this fact – those hunters are going to be geared up to the max before going after some of the estimated 4 million white-tailed deer roaming the Texas countryside.
Here in Southeast Texas, you don’t need a calendar to know when the opener on deer is nearing. Deer corn will be for sale at just about every store in town. And places like Leger Shooting Range will be packed with hunters buying gear and guns and taking them out back for a little target practice. Sporting goods stores will not only be packed with people but everything under the sun that relates to deer and deer hunting. Without a doubt deer hunting is serious dollar business.
The No. 1 thing to do prior to the season opener is to find a place to hunt. Once that is done, you’ll need a rifle, case, scope, some ammo, binoculars, camouflage clothing, boots, a blind, a stand, feeders, tons of corn, game cams and … well, you get the picture.
There are many brands of rifles in an array of calibers that will put a deer on the ground. Some of the more popular calibers include a .270, .30-06 and .243. A bolt-action rifle is by far the most popular among Texas hunters. Another option is the old lever action .30-30 with iron sites. That’s a good one if you’ll be hunting in the Pineywoods thickets.
A rifle without a scope is practically unheard of. When properly scoped and sighted, in a good rifle can lay a deer down anywhere from 100 to 300 yards out. A 200 to 300 yard shot is stretching it, but with a little practice on the range, it can be done.
Quality binoculars are worth their weight in gold. Never, ever go hunting without your binoculars.
It used to be that most of the deer hunting in the Pineywoods was done from homemade box blinds or tree stands made of 2x4s and plywood. Nowadays a high tech tree stand or factory made box blind is the norm. If you’ll be hunting from last season’s blind, make sure to clean it up before opening day. Wild animals and insects love to set up house in unused blinds.
Corn feeders are about as common as guns and blinds. Millions of pounds of corn are run through feeders each deer season. Like rifles and binoculars, you get what you pay for when selecting a feeder. Some are simple; others are high tech. Some are cheap while others are expensive. The high quality feeders will last for years. The el cheapo feeders tend to fall apart. One of the big markets for deer gear manufacturers is in replacement parts for feeders.
You can’t have a feeder without some sort of video or camera that keeps track of what’s eating all that expensive corn. Game cams are super popular. You can even buy video cams that will stream live footage right to your computer.
Camouflage clothing and gear ranks right up there with bullets for your rifle. Something that has always puzzled me is the demand for full camo clothing for hunters that do nothing but sit in a blind. I know deer are pretty smart critters, but last time I checked, they can’t see through walls. Regardless, the camouflage clothing market is huge and getting bigger every season. The list includes shirts, jackets, pants, hats, gloves and boots. One of the latest niche markets centers on soap that will wash human scent out of your clothing. If that’s not enough, you can carry along a bottle of scent control spray.
That’s just some of the gear you’ll need to stay one step ahead of the other half million or so deer hunters heading afield this season.
There is one other item you might want to check out – a four wheeler. Back when I was a kid there was no such thing as riding to your blind. We parked a half mile away and walked in. That is definitely not the situation now, and it’s just one more reason why deer hunting is a billion dollar business.