The reports that I have been receiving from the Hill Country and East to the Texas Piney Woods are of an abundant supply of corns. Whenever that happens, the deer seem to not move much during the daylight hours. They will feed at night and remain near the feeding area, if possible. There are, however, some situations that will cause the deer to move around during the daylight hours even if ample food is nearby.
One of the deer moving situations is that there are too many animals eating the acorns and they become depleted. Besides that, there are times when some of the acorns are not edible or they could be bitter. Another thing is that deer do not thrive on an acorn-only diet. Other staples are necessary for a healthy herd. With the ample rainfall in much of the Hill Country, there are plenty of the forbs available also.
As usual, there are some areas in the Hill Country that have only received minimal rainfall. Even so, there seems to be ample acorns and forbs for the deer. My concern is that there seems to be nothing to keep the whitetails from becoming overpopulated. Much of the land that was once open ranch land has become subdivisions where hunting is not allowed due to safety concerns. The animals that have lived in such areas for many generations are not molested and free to breed and create even larger deer herds. Some of these subdivisions have now taken steps to at least try to control the numbers.
Another thing that will cause the deer to move around during the daylight hours is the rut. This happens at different times in various parts of the state as well as in other states where whitetail deer roam. In both East Texas and the Hill Country, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, they begin the rut in late October and early November. In the South Texas brush country, the bucks begin following the does after Christmas on into the first part of January. That is the reason the TPWD has extended the brush country season for a week. That will give the hunters a better chance of taking one of the trophy bucks that are so sought after down there.
There are a couple of things that could be a little help that have paid off for me over the years. First of all, if you are planning the locate one of the so-called trophy bucks, you must pass up any animal that’s not what you would really want. Many times that can be difficult, especially in East Texas, since any legal buck could be the only one that you see all season long.
On free range or public hunting, it is best to do some pre-hunt scouting. By locating good evidence that there is one or more of the seemingly outsized animals around, you can set up and be prepared for one to come along.
Another thing that most of us fail to do is to remain either in the stand or afield through the mid-morning and mid-afternoon time. There have been plenty of the larger bucks taken between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. When the larger numbers of hunters have gone to camp for the morning and are waiting until late afternoon to hunt again, the big animals seem to move about. As a mere human being, I do not claim to know if fewer disturbances have anything to do with that mid-day big buck movement or if nature merely tells them to do so. No matter the reason, there are many of the larger-antlered bucks taken during the rut at midday.
I’ve also found that during the breeding time as well as other times during the season, very little deer activity takes place around corn feeders. It seems that when there is plentiful natural food, the deer will ignore anything else. On the other hand, when the acorn crop is short and they are consumed early in the season, the animals will to the supplements. Most of the time they will show up right at first daylight and just at dusk in the evening. That, however, is not always the case. I’ve found that there are always a few animals that will show up at other times. On frosty mornings, don’t expect much feeding activity until the frost begins to melt.
In much of East Texas after the first two or three weeks of the season, the deer of all sizes and gender seem to disappear. I’m sure there are exceptions to that, but that’s been my experience over the years. If you plan on taking venison home in East Texas, I suggest doing so early in the season.
Billy Halfin can be reached by e-mail at bhalfinoutdoors [at] aol [dot] com.