The general hunting season for deer in the North Zone closes Sunday, while hunters in South Texas have an additional two weeks to stalk that trophy buck.
This season has been one of the better ones on record for quantity and quality of deer. George Ashley, a rancher in Central Texas, has been leasing part of his large ranch to hunters for four decades, and the records turned in this year showed more deer and larger average racks harvested than in any prior year.
Ashley closes the ranch to hunting at the end of December each year and bases the size of the racks on the points. This year two 12-pointers were taken, and in most years, there were rarely any bucks over 10 points harvested.
Scott Harrison and his family hunted their lease near Bandera over New Year’s weekend and found the freezing temperatures just too much for comfort. Harrison’s 16-year-old son Trey endured the cold New Year’s morning to hunt and saw fewer deer than during three earlier hunts. He told his dad that the deer were just laying low in the subfreezing weather.
On the duck hunting scene, I hunted Mallard Lake, located in the Brazos River bottom on Sunday morning just before the frigid air hit and had one of my quickest limits in years. My hunting companion and I were back at the boat house before 8 a.m. with our limits of ducks that included eight scaup, three gadwall and a wood duck.
Other hunters were having the same results, as this has been a banner year for waterfowl all along the Gulf Coast.
Harold Moyes reported outstanding goose hunting on his lease near Garwood where the cold fronts have driven thousands of geese since Thanksgiving weekend. Moyes said that most hunts, since the second part of duck season opened, have resulted in at least one pintail.
Al Sanderson sent a note commenting on my observation of all of the Canadian geese in South Carolina by saying that I should have been in Southern Illinois with him in October. Sanderson hunted on a relative’s farm and took geese the size of large pelicans.
He had often been told of the big geese in that flyway but had never seen them firsthand. He pointed out that goose hunters there use buck shot rather than the typical BB or size 2 shot used in most other places.
Quail hunting reports have been fewer this season, and I am not sure of the reason. I visited with two avid quail hunters this week, asking if they had noticed a difference in hunting this year and both said no.
One of them, Jerry Albers, said that while his lease near Carrizo Springs was on par with last year, others have complained about the lower populations of quail.
Reports from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department indicate that the quail population suffered in areas hit hard by Hurricane Harvey and its floodwaters.
Just after press time for last Friday’s article, a report came in from Shorty Millsap who had a field day eliminating feral hogs from a friend’s small farm near Gonzales. Millsap used a 222 cal. rifle to down 17 hogs that were feeding on deer corn under an automatic feeder. The hogs were taken over three hunts in two days.
The first hunt was the most productive, with eight hogs killed just before dusk. Millsap said a neighboring landowner told him that the harvest was just a drop in the bucket compared to the number of wild hogs roaming Gonzales and Wilson counties.