Texas is a place with as many ecosystems as some countries and more wild game than most. Whether it is hunting or fishing, Texas is tops.
It almost goes without saying the whitetail hunting in Texas is stellar.
With nearly four million deer statewide, hunting is rock solid in each region of the state.
The 2016-17estimated harvest was 720,645 deer. You can compare those statistics to the 2010 season, one of Texas better seasons, when total deer harvest was estimated at 647,975 deer. Deer hunting is on the upswing after prolonged put a hit on overall numbers.
Feral hogs are the second most popular game in Texas and for good reason. With nearly three million of them roaming from border to border there are massive hunting opportunities, especially considering there is no season or bag limit and they can be hunted at night and even out of helicopter.
Texas is bringing in tens of thousands of out of state hunters annually who watch reality TV programs based on these potentially vicious Texas residents.
Texans are now killing more than 750,000 hogs a year according to Texas Agrilife. There are more hogs killed in Texas than the entire population of hogs in any other state other than Florida.
Texas has several species of dove, all of which are similar in appearance and habits, but that each has their own unique attributes.
Mourning doves are the most common and they prefer a mix of wild and agricultural settings. In most of the state, their preferred foods are milo, wheat and corn and they feed heavily on wild plants such as dove weed (croton) and ragweed. Whitewings are more of a city loving species and although they were once relegated to the southern half of the state, their numbers have increased dramatically and the range now includes parts of East Texas. Hunters also take Eurasian-collared doves in fair numbers in certain areas.
The dove population in Texas is the largest in the nation and hunters can always expect more doves than any other state offers-even on a bad year.
During winter our duck hunter numbers are strong and Texas still winters the bulk of the ducks in the Central Flyway.
Something else in Texas is on the rise: the popularity of crossbow hunting. There are several key reasons why as a lifelong bowhunter, I believe we will see a major crossbow boom in Texas over the next decade. They are as follows:
#Long deer season—Texas has the longest deer season in the nation. With a full month of archery-only hunting, this will inspire many hunters to buy a crossbow, learn how to shoot it and hit the field. Additionally, there are numerous key public hunting areas in the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers systems that are bow only throughout the nearly four-month deer season. Since many of these areas are located within a short drive of key metropolitan areas savvy hunters will likely get with the program.
#Off season options—Texas never really has an “off” season as there are legal hunting opportunities 365 days a year with the nation’s largest population of feral hogs and exotic animals to be found anywhere. Many hunters who pursue these creatures enjoy something a bit more challenging than rifle hunting so crossbows are a perfect alternative. In fact, there are many archery-only exotic ranches and hog hunting operations in the state that have already opened their gates to crossbow hunters.
A hunter in Texas does not only have to use them during a bow season like in many other states. We have an entire calendar year of opportunities and they are increasing all the time. Some metropolitan areas are legalizing archery equipment within the city limits to help decrease feral hogs, which are causing major problems. Most states are cutting out hunter opportunity while Texas is increasing it in many areas.
#Graying population—According to the Texas Department on Aging, baby boomers number 5.6 million in Texas or 28 percent of the population. Many older hunters have expressed an interest in crossbow hunting instead of traditional bowhunting due to physical limitations. Surveys show Texas has lots of older hunters but most of them use guns. By giving these older hunters, which often have plenty of disposable income a chance to take a more challenging hunting route, the crossbow industry could fare very well.
Another growth area is the popularity of public hunting and much of that has to do with the actions of TPWD. They are doing something that allows families to not only continue time-honored hunting traditions but also engage a multitude of access points at a very affordable rate.
For $48, hunters can purchase an Annual Public Hunting Permit (APH) and have an opportunity to pursue their outdoors passions on more than 900,000 acres of land.