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Deer numbers up; more hunters needed to control population

White-tailed deer

There’s more than one way to shoot a buck. This beauty was spotted and shot (by digital camera only) in the backyard of a home in Kingsland. Staff photo by David Bean

Deer hunters do more than build family traditions: They also contribute to local conservation efforts.

Without a regular harvest of both does and bucks, whether by natural predators or hunters, deer numbers would soon exceed the ability of the land to feed them. Overpopulation leads to habitat abuse, starvation, and death, affecting other wildlife, landscapes, and, ultimately, humans.

“My recommendation: If you have land and you’re not hunting, let someone else,” said Erin Wehland, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist who covers Burnet County. “We could use more hunters. We could handle a few more being harvested. My number one recommendation is to harvest the deer.”

In Texas this year, 700,000 white-tailed deer hunters will be aiming their rifles at a larger deer population than in previous seasons. Because of an unusually wet spring, that population increased to 5.4 million from 4.6 million in 2018.

General season for white-tailed deer in the North Zone of Texas, which includes Burnet and Llano counties, runs November 2-January 5. A special late season for the North Zone runs January 6-19.

Bow hunters get an early start on deer season. Archery season throughout the state is September 28-November 1.

Muzzleloader-only season is January 6-19.

For hunting rules and regulations, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website.

Texas Parks and Wildlife can also provide information on how to control deer in urban areas where hunting is illegal and the deer become bold, eating flowers and other cherished landscaping plants and gardens.