Deer Hunting in Texas
Timing a Texas deer hunt is critical for maximizing your success. For example Texas Hill country bucks are already out searching for does in early November. Thus it is wise to carry a set of rattling horns and a grunt call along with you, particularly if you enjoy stalking deer. If you’re in a ground blind and a lull in activity occurs, a rattling sequence may be all that is needed to lure in that trophy buck.
Hunting brush country whitetails in early November is quite a bit different as buck activity is generally suppressed primarily because of high temperatures. Mature bucks remain reclusive until the deer rut, which occurs in the colder month of December. Deer hunting in November during the early morning and late afternoon hours from your favorite tree stand can be productive, but it’s beneficial to investigate areas seldom visited between prime deer hunting periods. By doing so, you will become more familiar with the habitat and how deer use it. You may also locate points of interest that you may wish to return and rattle once the deer rut begins.
South Texas hunters can supplement their deer hunting experience by harvesting doe early in the season. Most deer hunters enjoy venison, and taking surplus deer early relinquishes more time to pursue that particular buck later in the season when mature bucks become more visible. Remember, there is no need to have more doe on a property than required to replace the bucks you intend to shoot. By removing them early, more vegetation is allowed for remaining animals. It’s also a fact that by tightening the sex ratio, bucks will move more to locate a receptive female, enhancing your chance of seeing them.
Possibly the most exciting technique employed to see a buck is rattling. It’s a unique way of putting the deer hunt back into the hunt. The unique feature of rattling is that anyone can do it. The only requirement to rattling up a mature buck is an optimistic attitude. To experience success, the deer hunter must be savvy enough to perform this exercise where mature bucks hang out. These areas are characterized by an abundance of deer sign, particularly fresh deer scrapes. Perform the technique often enough, and you will acquire the ability to determine where these choice positions are and what features such as cover they exude. Try the technique often enough, and locating these rattling hot spots will become second nature to you; your success rate will rise.
Like dry fly fishing for trout, one does not expect a rise on every cast. But with experience, the number of casts is reduced because the fisherman becomes more selective and more concerned about presentation.
The actual rattling technique is diverse as the sportsmen employing it. Most fights are pushing matches that endure for only seconds; however, some can persist for several minutes. During these pushing matches, loud clashes of antler upon antler are seldom heard. It’s usually a grinding sound complemented by the sound of the brush rubbing against the combatants. It’s only when the animals separate momentarily and reengages that the loud clash of bone is heard. Thus when duplicating these battles, the rattler should initiate a rattling sequence by simply rubbing the antlers together gently at first. Driving the antlers alternately into the ground mimics the common sound of the deer’s feet in their attempt to maintain their balance while attempting to force their opponent from one side to another. The sound of thrashing brush with the antlers enhances the battle’s authenticity.
Without a response following a short pause of three to five minutes, the antlers can be reengaged with force in order to reach deer distant to your position. Raking the brush and driving the antlers repeatedly into the ground should be conducted throughout and just following a rattling sequence.
Deer respond to rattling much like people do to the sounds of glass breaking or ambulance sirens. Deer, like people, are curious. The amount of time it takes to draw a deer into view varies. The average response time is around four minutes, but I have had deer rush in while raking the brush prior to engaging the antlers. I have also witnessed bucks sneak in 30 minutes following a rattling sequence. If you know a particular buck occupies the area, be patient. Seldom does a savvy mature buck rush in, but once things calm down, it will sneak in to see what all the commotion was about.
Another excellent location to find a trophy buck is on a cool season food plot. Why--because that’s where most of the does concentrate. Mature bucks may not visit these areas on a regular basis, but deer hunt these fields often enough and you may be surprised what shows up.
One advantage a food plot represents outside its nutritional value is the opportunity it affords the deer hunter to study deer and their behavior. A grain field in late December is like an outdoor classroom for the serious student of the whitetail. Not only is a substantial number of deer observed, but the behavior of these animals is clearly exposed, providing information that enhances hunting skills. Educationally, the food plot represents a target-rich environment.
The paramount advantage a food plot represents is time to select your target whether it means judging a trophy rack or differentiating between a doe and a large-bodied buck fawn, reducing the chance of harvesting the wrong animal.
Deer hunting is a challenging sport. The more we learn about our query, the better deer hunter we become. So the next trip you make to the lease, treat it like a learning experience. Study the animals you pursue, and remember, you are the manager. A deer management decision is made each time you pull that trigger. Have a great season and hunt safely!!