Texas Celebrates National Hunting and Fishing Day Sept. 26, White-Tail Deer Season Opens Oct. 3 for Archers
The hunting season for white-tailed deer, archery only, opens Oct. 3 and ends Nov. 6.
General hunting season for white-tails opens on Nov. 7 and ends Jan. 3, 2021.
For a complete list of all 2020-2021 hunting dates, click here. To review the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Outdoor Annual app, click here.
Favorable Hunting Season Expected
In July, Alan Cain, White-tailed Deer Program leader for TPWD said spring rains allowed many regions of the state, including the Edwards Plateau, to recover from 2019’s dry fall and winter, leading to an abundance of quality forbs and shrubs critical for deer nutrition.
These conditions lent a good start to antler growth and a positive outlok for fawn recruitment numbers.
TPWD biologists estimate that the state’s deer population is around 5.5 million deer, or a density of 49.25 deer per 1,000 acres. However, that density is not uniform across the state and those areas with better habitat tend to support higher deer populations. TPWD data suggests that the hunter success rate in 2019 was estimated to be 60% and similar trends can be expected for the 2020-21 season. The Edwards Plateau and the Cross Timbers regions of Texas are forecast to have the highest deer populations.
“From a statewide perspective, hunters might expect to see a higher proportion of bucks in the 6.5 to 8.5-year age classes as a result of above average fawn crop in previous corresponding years while other age classes reflect a more even distribution,” Cain said. “While doe harvest has been down slightly in the last couple of years, which is likely contributing to a widening ratio of does to bucks, the good news for hunters is that there should be plenty of carryover from previous years.”
White-tailed deer and Mule Deer are Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)-susceptible animals. TPWD asks hunters to review CWD information to find area testing requirements and carcass movement restrictions in CWD Containment and Surveillance Zones. New for the 2020-21 season, a CWD zone has been established in Kimble County. Additional information about CWD can be found on the TPWD website.
National Hunting and Fishing Day
Meanwhile, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) encourages Texas hunters and anglers celebrate National Hunting and Fishing (NHF) Day on Sept. 26, which Congress launched in 1971 on the fourth Saturday of each September.
“Hunting and fishing are deeply embraced and time honored traditions in the culture and heritage of families and communities across Texas,” said Carter Smith, Executive Director of TPWD. “As we celebrate these activities and herald the long-standing contributions of our hunters and anglers to the conservation of our fish and wildlife, I would also encourage all our sportsmen and women to take this opportunity to share their passion with others who may not have had an opportunity to hunt or fish before. Not only will you help make lifelong memories, but you will help pass along one of the greatest gifts we can give future generations, a love of the great Texas outdoors.”
Resources for Newbies
TPWD offers a variety of resources to help anyone ready to venture into the field or water for the first time.
Those interested in learning about hunting can take an online or in-person hunter education course. This mandatory education course is required for all new hunters and equips them with the necessary tools and information they need to be safe in the field. The course covers a range of topics including the basics about firearm safety, species identification, zones of fire and more. Hunter education certification is required for anyone born on or after Sept. 2, 1971.
TPWD also offers mentored hunting workshops which are designed to introduce new hunters to the experience and educate them on the skills they will need to be successful in the field. TPWD’s How to Get Started Hunting webpage also offers a wealth of information for anyone who wants to learn how to hunt.
Texans who want to learn to fish can also find many resources on the TPWD Learn to Fish webpage including how to how to get started, safety, basic gear assembly, tackle boxes and supplies, bait and lures, how to cast and much more. TPWD’s new outdoor education curriculum is available online and covers everything from basic fishing skills to fly tying.
Sharing a significant portion of the food they harvest with others is another tradition for Texas hunters. Survey data shows about 97.7% of hunters in Texas share or donate the meat from their trip. On average, 5.8 million people receive game meat annually from hunters and more than half of the beneficiaries are community members living outside the hunter’s household.
“Texas hunters have a keen interest in a sustainable harvest of the game animals they pursue,” said John Silovsky, Wildlife Division Director with TPWD. “Whether that is big game, small game or exotic species, adequate harvest management can result in a surplus of wild meat to be shared with family, friends, neighbors or charitable organizations such as ‘Hunters for the Hungry.’ The motivation to harvest game with many of today’s hunters is not about trophies but the opportunity to provide healthy wild recreationally harvested meat for the table.”
Hunters and anglers also make a huge impact on wildlife conservation. Proceeds from license fees pay for on-the-ground conservation efforts aimed at creating and protecting habitat for native wildlife. Licenses can be purchased at retail locations across the state, online or by phone. For more information, visit the TPWD licenses webpage.
In celebration of NHF Day, hunters and anglers are encouraged to share their outdoors stories on TPWD’s social media pages for a chance to win a $50 Cabela’s gift card. Details about the contest and much more can be found on the TPW Magazine Blog page.
Texas boasts a whitetail deer population in excess of 4 million. Deer hunting is a thriving industry that brings in around $2 billion into the state’s economy. It’s especially important to small rural towns where deer hunting is a big part of everyday life.
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