Keep the rifles cased, but bring out the bows, because the archery-only deer hunting season kicks off this Saturday.
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 and 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.
“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.
The general gun deer season in Texas opens Nov. 3 statewide, preceded by a youth-only deer season the weekend of Oct. 27-28.