The Countdown Is On! Deer Opener This Weekend!

September 25, 2012

Archery season opens here in my part of the Texas Hill Country this weekend.  The wait has seemed interminable.  Only the fact that I’ve had so much work to do around this place has kept me from going nuts, especially since I know my California friends have been deer hunting since the second half of July.  Several of them have already tagged out!

So I’ve had the Mathews out, and it’s driving tacks as usual… a far more accurate bow than I am an archer, but I’m very happy out to 40 yards.  I had a 60 yard target set up out back, and the bow is certainly capable, but with the rocky ground out here it was just too hard on arrows when I clanked a shot.

According to my game cameras, I’ve got at least two “shooter” bucks coming onto the property regularly, and a pile of does.  I’m not counting eggs yet, but my plan is to put meat in the freezer first, and then worry about getting an arrow in a buck later.   First mature deer to walk under my stand this weekend gets a 100gr Slick-Trick.

Looks like rain for the weekend too, which will dampen my plans (insert rimshot and rolled eyes here).  I’m not crazy about bowhunting in the rain (hard to follow a blood trail), but hopefully it’ll hold off enough so I can get some time in the stand.  I have to head back to Spokane next week, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to get my deer on the ground and in the freezer before my flight on Monday.

Of course, I’ve got until the middle of January to fill my freezer.  I think I have five tags for whitetail, and two for mule deer.  That’s more than enough venison to hold me for a bit.

So cooler weather, a little rain, and the high, holy days (as my old friend, Reverend Roy Steward used to say) are upon us!


8 Responses to “The Countdown Is On! Deer Opener This Weekend!”

  1. Jean on September 25th, 2012 23:11

    Good luck to you. An unsuccessful A zone in California for me but husband got his first deer. Venison is wonderfulstuff.

    Just have what is hopefully not an irritating question:

    With all of the feeders that Texas has, how much of what you do is “deer gardening”?

    It is a curiosity of mine. No disrespect intended.

  2. Phillip on September 26th, 2012 07:04

    Jean, despite the bias-loaded language, “deer gardening”, I get what you’re saying and it’s a fair enough question. I guess the answer lies in the individual hunter’s perspective, though.

    For my own part, in some ways it certain could be seen as “gardening”, and in some of the more extreme cases (but not at all rare), it’s more like a full-scale livestock operation. There’s definitely an aspect of cultivation in maintaining feeders and food plots and establishing a regular “herd” of visiting animals. From a wildlife management perspective, I have a deep feeling that this probably isn’t the best thing overall. The proliferation of feeders and food plots has been blamed for supporting too many deer, resulting in unhealthy population density. It’s been accused of supporting the spread of feral hogs by providing ready sources of food and water.

    But it’s so deeply established here that part of me thinks the deer probably see the annual “tree corn” crop in much the same way they must anticipate the dropping of acorns, or the spring green-up. The vast majority of feeders sit idle most of the year, and are only put into action when September rolls around. Since Labor Day, I’ve seen one truck after another with pallets of corn and protein supplements, feeders, stands, and other equipment as the lease-holders roll out to prepare for hunting season. Sometime around late January, they’ll go idle again. There’s a whole industry built around it down here (and in other states where baiting and feeding are legal). When you live and hunt in a place where the sound of a feeder motor can be used as an effective deer call, it tells you something about how deeply embedded the practice has become. And the truth is, for the small property owner in this marginal country, it is the only sure way to ensure a huntable number of animals on your place. I can guarantee that, if you don’t run at least one feeder on a small parcel (like my 24 acres), the deer will move to properties that do. The only more powerful draw than food is water, and surface water is in short, short supply here.

    Anyway, it’s much different than what people in many other parts of the country are used to, that’s for sure. And to be honest, I’m sure it doesn’t suit the tastes of some other hunters. But it’s the way things are done here. Personally, this will never be my favorite kind of hunting. I’ll always prefer hunting the big country, hiking the ridges and glassing for miles. But at least it’s hunting. And I will kill deer. In the end, the deer don’t much care how we kill them… they’re dead either way.

  3. Neil H on September 26th, 2012 06:14

    Good luck! I guess you have a few more options out there in Texas! Maybe you could send some jerky out to your poor relations back at the old homestead…

    As for me here in California, I hunted a new area here in zone A and tagged out a week before close. With my October schedule looking grim, I opted for another Zone A to use for the last weekend of the season. I figured I’d have a better chance on my grandpa’s place than new and unfamiliar ground in B or D, but my second tag remained unfilled at the finish. And so, my next venison opportunities are in 2013. Of course, getting a deer here isn’t a foregone conclusion, as Jean suggested, so I’m happy if I have one in the freezer each year.

    I love California, but maybe I need to think about exploring some other states for the later seasons.

  4. Phillip on September 26th, 2012 07:22

    Neil, congrats on tagging out!

    I was in CA for the A zone archery opener, and I almost made a break for my favorite ridgeline. I hope that wasn’t my last chance to hunt CA, because there is some truly awesome country to cover. Fortunately, I’ve got my lifetime license, so I can come back if the timing and opportunity are right. I’ll probably start putting in for draw hunts only, and build up some points.

    There’s a lot to be said for hunting other parts of the country, both for the experience of seeing new places and for the opportunity to learn new methods. I’ve often thought that every western hunter should have the chance to sit a few days in an eastern tree stand, parked up in a longleaf pine tree. Folks who spend almost every moment of the hunt in motion, hiking and glassing, can learn a lot about patience… and about the things you miss if you don’t stop and sit still for a few hours. On the flip side, I think every eastern hunter should have the chance to hike the ridges and hunt the big country where, if you just sit and wait for the animal to come to you, you may be waiting a very long time.

    Personally, while I’ve been privileged to have several different deer hunting experiences from the Adirondacks, to the Carolina swamps, to the Appalachians, and of course the varying experiences available in California, there are some that remain on my bucket list. I still want to go to Maine sometime and track deer in the snow like the Benoit family. And I want to one day have the experience of glassing muley bucks in the rocky ledges and coulees of the Dakota Badlands. I’d like to hunt Sitka blacktails from a mother ship base camp in Alaska. There are probably others I haven’t even thought of yet… and that’s just deer. Hog hunting opens another whole world of opportunities and experience…

  5. Jean on September 27th, 2012 21:15

    Bias loaded? Yeah that’s me. Mostly because I’ve never lived in a state where hunting deer over bait is legal.
    I can count on you for a straight forward explanation. That’s one of the things I really like about your blog.
    I garden better than I hunt and I could not help but notice the parallels in taking care of things we eat.
    I think your reply says much about fitting in to your new home.
    Some day I may have time for a real reply, but this is all I can muster just now. Thanks for your understanding.

  6. Phillip on September 28th, 2012 07:41


    It seems as if you took my reply personally, and if so, I apologize. That wasn’t my intent. It was your choice of language that was biased, not you… and based on previous interactions here, I had no reason to expect any sort of confrontational attitude in your comment. My response was, likewise, not intended to be offensive.

  7. Arthur on September 28th, 2012 06:35

    Well……now you feel some of my pain Phillip. In Michigan, we have to wait until October 1st, and it takes forever for it get here.

    I hope you had a great first weekend. And those bucks on the trailcam look pretty good.

  8. Jean on September 28th, 2012 20:30

    No worries. No apology necessary. Good luck on the venison quest.