Texas Deer Hunting
Deer hunting in the state of Texas offers a good number of options. There are good herds of both white tail and mule deer here. The white-tail deer herds in Texas have steadily increased in most areas, while the mule deer have seen a downward trend in population since 1978. This has caused a bit of resentment among mule deer managers, who view it as more of an invasion than the natural spread and movement of wildlife.
White-tails are found in good numbers in the western Edwards Plateau, an area that includes Terrell, Crockett and the eastern portion of Pecos counties. Deer population numbers are growing in the southern portion of the state, and in fact can be found and are hunted all over the state Texas. There are good mule deer populations in several areas including the Trans Pecos area. Though the typical scenario is an increase in white-tails and a decrease in mule deer, there are a couple of areas that are seeing the exact opposite. In the Terrell and eastern Pecos counties, mule deer populations are growing while white-tails have seen a bit of a decrease.
One of the great misconceptions among hunters and guides is that white-tails drive out mule deer. This is not the case however, and in fact they peacefully coexist and even interbreed in some areas of Texas. The decrease in mule deer population is primarily due to changes vegetation that has favored whitetails. Mule deer prefer lower levels of vegetation and canopy, and as vegetation density has increased in an area, the mule deer are moving out and white-tails who prefer this thicker cover are moving in. This gives the false impression that white-tails are driving out the mule deer, but in reality it is a natural event as the animals seek out environments they prefer.
Finally, the size of the deer varies greatly from region to region. Where the population is heavier and resources strained, the result is a typically small buck with a modest rack. Areas which are a bit less populated, such as the Permian Basin, can produce exceptionally well nourished white-tails with body size and impressive antlers to match. Obviously there are many ranches and farms all over the state, who by managing their deer populations, provide excellent trophy bucks on their particular farms or ranches.
Texas is a large state and as can be expected there is a large variance in rut peaks. Rut peaks have been as early as September in the Gulf Prairies and Marshes, and as late as Christmas Eve in the South Texas Plains region. For a full list and map with rut peaks, check out the Texas Parks and Wildlife rut information link below.
Texas Deer Hunting Facts
- Though interbreeding does occur between white-tails and mule deer, a true hybrid offspring is a very rare find.
- Deer herds in Texas have increased since 1938 to an estimated 4 million.
- Deer hunting is a popular recreation activity for Texans, with over a half a million deer hunters in the state.
- The Texas state record typical buck scored 196 4/8, way back in 1963.
- The Texas state record non-typical buck scored 286, taken in 1992.
Popular Texas Public Hunting Areas
There are 51 public Wildlife Management Areas (WMA’s) in Texas. A $48 Annual Public Hunting permit provides access to over 1 million acres of land, for hunting, camping, fishing and other uses. Youth under age 17 are allowed to hunt absolutely free, when accompanied by an adult with a valid permit. For a list of various WMA’s in Texas, view the resources section below.
Texas Private Hunting Areas
Do you own private hunting land or offer guided hunts in Texas? Contact us about a listing in this section!
For more info on such things as rules, regulations and licenses, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept home page.
List of Texas public hunting WMA’s can be located here: Texas WMAs