Biologists Say White-Tailed Deer Population Looks Strong Ahead of Archery-Only Season Opener

Biologists Say White-Tailed Deer Population Looks Strong Ahead of Archery-Only Season Opener

AUSTIN – Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) biologists say that 2021-22 is expected to be a white-tailed deer season for the books. Last year, the overall white-tailed deer population was estimated to be 5.4 million deer. While that estimate is down from the previous two years, TPWD biologists say that if fawn recruitment predictions hold true this season, coupled with good carryover of deer from last hunting season, hunters and landowners can expect to see an increase in the overall statewide white-tailed deer population.

“White-tailed deer forecasts and expectations are, in large part, driven by habitat conditions that the deer are experiencing across their range in Texas in the eight to ten months prior to the season,” said Alan Cain, TPWD White-Tailed Deer Program Leader. “Though the end of 2020 was dry, and early 2021 experienced freezing conditions that delayed green up of important browse plants, the late spring and summer rainfall acted like liquid fertilizer for forb, grass, and woody plant production and has provided a buffet of natural forages for deer.”

Cain says that the favorable habitat conditions should boost the body condition of deer populations and set up deer to enter the fall and winter with a substantial layer of fat. The favorable weather conditions were also vital in helping bucks maximize antlers as they finish out the growing season. Antler quality is predicted to be well above average for the 2021-22 season.

While the archery-only season kicks off the first weekend of October, the general season opener is still more than a month away on Nov. 6. The general season runs through Jan. 2, 2022 in the North Zone and Jan. 16, 2021 in the South Zone. A special youth-only gun deer season is set for Oct. 30-31 and Jan. 3-16, 2022. For additional late season deer hunting opportunities, county specific regulations and information on how to property tag and report a harvest, consult the 2021-22 Outdoor Annual, which was made possible in part by support from Chevy Silverado.

Archery hunters are required to purchase an Archery Endorsement in addition to their hunting license. Hunters taking advantage of Texas Public Hunting Lands must also have the Annual Public Hunting Permit. It’s also important for public land hunters to consult the Public Hunting Lands Map Booklet to review regulations that may apply to specific areas. The My Texas Hunt Harvest app can be used to complete on-site registration electronically at a public hunting area.

Hunters are reminded to review information about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) for information about testing requirements and carcass movement restrictions in the CWD zones for the 2021-22 season. Discovery of new cases of CWD in Hunt, Lubbock, and Uvalde counties has prompted TPWD to establish new containment and surveillance zones in those areas to mitigate the potential spread of CWD.

Those interested in learning more about archery and bowhunting, or anyone who is looking to brush-up on their skills ahead of the season, are encouraged to explore Bowhunter by Fall, a newsletter series presented by TPWD’s Community Archery Program.