Texas Parks and Wildlife officials: Rain leaves conditions ripe for hunting

Texas Parks and Wildlife: Rain leaves conditions ripe for hunting

As fall comes to Texas, more than one million hunters are gearing up for another season, which will bring more than three-billion dollars into the state's economy. But just how is this year's season shaping up for sportsmen and women now that we've seen a little rain?

Texas Parks and Wildlife has this report.

A new app is now available that allows hunters to carry the Outdoor Annual with them on their mobile devices. You can download here.

Texas Parks and Wildlife reminds hunters they need game bird conservation stamps to hunt dove, waterfowl, turkey and quail and to check the local regulations where they will be hunting.

"We think we are going to have a pretty good year for deer hunting," said Clayton Wolf, wildlife division director for Texas Parks and Wildlife. "Around May we started getting some rainfall west of I-35. And June and July were actually pretty pleasant this year in Texas which put a lot of forbes and a lot of green vegetation and growth on the ground."

"As far as antler condition, body condition or white tailed deer and fawn production, we're going to do pretty well this year. I'd call it average to above average this year," Wolf said.

Wolf said the harvest will be down in West Texas for mule deer and for pronghorn, but that's not unexpected for those who hunt in desert environments. He said the prospects for the future look good because fawn production and body condition is up and those populations are rebounding.

Jason Hardin, upland game bird specialist with TPWD said there are about 500,000 Rio Grande turkeys in the state of Texas.

"Fortunately this year we had timely rainfall and had excellent production," Hardin said. "So hunters this fall should see a fair number of juvenile birds across the landscape. There are a fair number of 2-year-old birds going into their third year. So we're going to have some mature birds out there as well. So going into this fall hunting season, we do expect to see good harvest rates and good populations out there across the landscape."

Robert Perez, upland game program leader for TPWD said this year's numbers are again way up on the Gulf Coast Prairies. He said he thinks South Texas will see some excellent hunting opportunities.

"We're still below average in the Rolling Plains," Perez said.

Breeding populations for waterfowl are at an all time high.

"Of the ten species that we actually count each year, all but two of them were above last year. It's amazing," said Dave Morrison, small game program director with TPWD.

But the success rate for Texas hunters is dependent on what goes on further north of us.

"Simply because we are at the end of the flyway," Morrison said. "So if we can get some better rains between now and then we should have an average to above-average season this year for ducks."

"For geese, we're looking at an average to above-average for white-fronted geese. Light geese continue to be a concern to Texas. We used to be the snow-goose capital of the world. But in recent years, those birds just haven't got here," Morrison said.

But there is one species you can hunt all year long.

"Feral hogs are a problem," Wolf said. "They're not a native species, they're invasive, but they are tasty. You can legally harvest a feral hog any time of the year and suppress those populations."

"Hunting is always a great time to create new conservationists. Once you've been hunting and you've observed all those really neat things out there in nature and you appreciate them. And when you appreciate them, you want to perpetuate them for yourself and for others," Wolf said.

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