Unlike the symphony of shotgun blasts signaling the opening weekend of dove season, few will hear the whisper soft “string music” of archery-only deer season. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of hunters making bowstring music; archery hunting stamp sales are up substantially this year, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Entering this weekend’s “soft” opener of deer season, the archery-only season Sept. 29-Nov. 2, archery endorsements are up 15.2 percent at 13,231. The endorsement is required of anyone hunting during the archery-only season. The endorsement is included in the department’s Super Combo hunting and fishing license package, sales of which are also up 11.75 percent at 292,670.
Wildlife officials point to rebounding range conditions this year that helped bolster deer populations as a contributing factor to the jump in hunting participation this fall. Timely rainfall across much of the state that began during the winter of 2011 and continued through the first half of this year generated much needed habitat recovery. Those important food sources resulted in increased deer antler growth, improved body conditions and higher fawn production and survival.
“Most of the state has received much needed rain to boost forage resources needed for antler development and fawn rearing,” said Alan Cain, TPWD deer program leader.”Far West Texas, primarily mule deer country is still dry. I expect this to be an average to slightly above average season for antlers. South Texas, known for trophy bucks, should be in good shape as we’ve had rain this summer. The Texas Hill Country known for higher deer populations has also received good rains this summer so hunters should expect decent antler quality and good body weights for this region.”
New this season, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved opening a hunting season for deer in Dallas, Collin, Rockwall and Galveston counties.
Under the new regulations, the current season structure in Grayson County will be altered to allow full-season, either-sex whitetail harvest. The amended Grayson County archery-only deer season structure will also be implemented in Dallas, Collin, and Rockwall counties. In addition, the Commission approved implementing the current Harris County season structure in Galveston County.
The deer season in Collin and Rockwall counties has been closed since 1976 after agricultural development had virtually eliminated deer habitat. Since that time, agriculture has been gradually displaced by the extensive urban, suburban, and exurban growth of the Metroplex, which has resulted in highly fragmented habitat and minimal populations of white-tailed deer, mostly in riparian areas surrounding lakes and streams.
The general gun deer season in Texas opens Nov. 3 statewide, preceded by a youth-only deer season the weekend of Oct. 27-28.
A bright outlook for deer season may not be the only reason more archers are taking to the woods. TPWD is taking steps to introduce archery to potential new hunters through the National Archery in the Schools Program, now in its eighth year in Texas. NASP is being offered in all 50 states and six countries. To date worldwide more than 9.5 million school children from more than 10, 300 schools in grades 4-12 have received archery instruction from their NASP teachers.
Toyota is the primary sponsor of Texas-NASP and the program is part of the state’s hunter and bowhunter education efforts, programs that are supported from the sales of archery equipment through the federal Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program efforts. For information about the Texas-National Archery In The Schools program, contact Burnie Kessner with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 862-7341. Or, see the TPWD archery in the schools Web page.
Logo courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife