An objective look at deer hunting in Texas

Courtesy LUKE CLAYTON

Posted: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 12:44 pm

Deer hunting has changed dramatically since my early days as a deer hunter in the sixties. Then, deer numbers were low and we spent more time hunting than harvesting. When the boon years for whitetail deer occurred in the seventies and eighties, opportunities were increased and more hunters became interested in deer.

Herds across the state were all but eliminated during the first half of the past century. In the fifties and sixties, restocking programs occurred and deer were reintroduced. Stockings occurred from various regions and genetics in a particular area reflected characteristics of the brood deer. Many generations later, these genes have passed along the bloodlines of the various herds across the state.

In my weekly outdoor radio program, members of Texas Deer Association are among my guests. Many of these guys and gals own high-fenced breeding facilities and some also offer hunts on their properties.

Through the years, through inbreeding and overharvest of desirable sire bucks, the quality of many herds of deer has suffered. As Karl Kinsel, executive director of TDA recently pointed out, “The overall quality of the deer herd in any particular area can be greatly enhanced by the introduction of quality bucks and does with desirable genetics.”

The ultimate goal of any breeding program is to produce and enhance the size of bucks. The adage “Follow the money” hold true when it comes to deer hunting. It’s ultimately hunters’ dollars that drive this industry.

Superior bucks reared on breeding facilities are used as brood stock to insure their qualities are passed on down the line. Other bucks are used to stock ranches that need a boost in the genetics of their native herd or stocked on hunting ranches for harvest. Breeding today is all about improving the overall quality of the herd, which in turn, produces bigger bucks with bigger antlers.

I’ve also learned the doe is equally important. Records are kept on the doe and savvy breeders looking to improve genetics study the pedigrees of female deer and mate them with bucks that carry the genetics to produce the traits they are looking for in their herd

Hunters can squabble all they want about the practice of containing deer behind high fences but the results of good science stands as testament that selective breeding works for deer just as it does for any animal.

Listen to Outdoors with Luke Clayton and Friends on radio stations from Nebraska to Texas or online anytime at www.catfishradio.com.