As we are only a few days from the opening of the general Texas whitetail deer season many folks are asking about what to expect. Some of them have yet to book hunting leases. There are still others that have early season spots, but are considering other areas later in the season
In the past few years many of the deer hunters, especially those of average means, are taking more feral hogs. The feral hogs are, for the most part, extremely good table fare. I’ve talked to several folks who have told me that they would prefer a nice fat feral hog to a deer for table fare. There is no doubt that the pork has a less gamey flavor than an old whitetail buck during the rut. Whether the pork flavor excels that of a nice healthy doe is a matter of taste.
My personal preference is that I enjoy both the venison and the pork. I enjoy it as it is prepared alone or when it is mixed together to make both smoked and pan sausage. Even a nice venison roast cooked in the oven with a pork roast is, in my opinion, some scrumptious eating. Then when the pork fat is removed from the pot the remaining drippings make super tasty gravy.
I mentioned earlier that an older buck deer during the rut is less desirable than a younger doe. That doesn’t mean that the buck is not great table fare. That is also the case with older male feral hogs. In fact, many folks will not even bother to take a big boar hog for the table. Feral hogs in the 30 to 100 pound range are just right. Again, the females are the better table fare.
I realize that over the years, more and more television outdoors programs are about going to hunting places where only outsize bucks may be taken. Most of the places where those bucks with giant antlers live costs big bucks to take one. So what that leaves for the average work-a-day hunters are places where they are not guaranteed a certain size buck. The free ranging animals are the ones that I enjoy going after. Places where there are no guides telling me which one to shoot and which one to let go. I enjoy the quiet and solitude of hearing only the birds and animals do their thing. Believe me, there are many of them out there when you take the time to enjoy them.
There are the many hunts that are offered each year by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. They are selected by a lottery, but the hunt areas are for free ranging deer. Some of the hunts are in remote areas where camping is allowed. Of course, there are annually many more applications than openings. Texas has a point system that allows those that are not drawn one year to have preference the following. It is too late to apply for a state sponsored deer hunt this year. The catalog is usually available July 1, which gives one plenty of time to decide on where to apply to hunt. However, there is still some time to apply for some spring hunts or learn about areas where other game is available with no lottery necessary.
There are many, many day leases available in Texas and in some of the other states. A couple of hunters have contacted me about their range conditions, the animals and conditions, and the availability of hunting dates
In Mississippi, The Washes Plantation near Natchez is offering day hunts throughout their seasons. That state has several different season openings and closings. They go from archery, to primitive weapons, dog hunts and no-dog dates. They also offer a late primitive weapon season. Most of the hunting areas, and it’s true at The Washes Plantation, do not allow deer hounds at any time. This place has been under trophy management for more than 20 years. They also offer liberal regulations for management bucks and does.
Judy Brooks, owner of the Winkle Ranch near Llano, contacted me last week. She said that they have had plenty of rain and the place is green. There is a good acorn crop and the does are again showing up with twin fawns. It also seems that the antler growth is better this year than it was last year. Brooks also said that she has seen a good number of deer, hogs and Rio Grande turkeys when they were rounding up their cattle.
You can contact Ross McGehee at The Washes Plantation at (601) 432-6881. Brooks can be contacted at (512) 345-8090.