December 8, 2022

New Hunting Restrictions For Texas Hunters

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In an effort to restructure the age demographics of male deer in Texas, new restrictions will go into affect this year in many state counties. The restrictions would be in the size of the antlers of buck deer that hunters would be allowed to take. Officials are hoping this change will allow for an increase the average age and maturity of the male deer.

The restrictions, of which I don’t think are that clearly stated, are as follows:

….limit hunters to taking a buck white-tailed deer only if that buck has at least one unbranched, or spike, antler or if it has an inside antler spread of at least 13 inches

I’m not sure I completely understand this restriction but as I read it, this means hunters can take spikehorn deer as long as the spike hasn’t branched. After that the antlers have to have at least 13 inches between the horns.

I may come across here as a total idiot and that’s fine. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done that but I would like to make a comment about this restriction. I have hunted in Maine my entire life. I remember when the restrictions for a “bucks only” hunt went into affect several years ago. This has been an attempt by the state to increase the deer herd. The restrictions then stated that in order to shoot a deer, it had to be a buck with antlers at least 3 inches in length.

That was a bit troublesome as this became a change that many of us “old timers” weren’t used to. It certainly changed our hunting habits. One of the first things I did was to go out and purchase a rifle with a scope on it. I figured I wanted a better way to see and estimate the length of horns on a buck.

The supposed problems were unfounded and one of the biggest reasons was this; when in doubt about the length, don’t shoot. Most hunters didn’t have a problem with this and what it actually did was ensure that the younger bucks lived another year.

Back to Texas though, you now have to know whether a deer has 13 inches between the rack spread. I know this is a new idea but I find this a difficult task to accomplish. I was with an older gentleman just last week. We were watching some alligators lounging about the waters of the Hillsborough River in Hillsborough County, Florida. Our discussion soon became one of determining how long these gators were. We were talking feet here and we were in disagreement by a considerable amount in watching alligators that were 4-8 feet in length (we did agree on that much).

I conceded that in Maine, letting a questionable 3 or 4 inch antlered deer go because you might not be sure but 13 inches between spreads is a daunting task.

One article I read said that the vast majority of hunters in Texas approved of this restriction. It is always good when hunters are in agreement. I can only conclude that, using the same approach of letting the questionable ones pass, Texas is sure to have some nicely racked buck deer to harvest in the future.

What will be interesting is to find out how this works. In many regions across this country, the demands are becoming more vocal by hunters demanding trophy deer. If this approach in Texas works, you can expect many other states to follow suit as changes in deer management are often influenced by big money. It is no secret that it is the more affluent hunter that is demanding the trophy deer.

Tom Remington