Deer hunting in Southwest Texas is expected to be “really terrific” this year thanks to timely rains, according to Dr. Rob Hogan, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist, Uvalde.
“Though it hasn’t been a year with a lot of moisture from the beginning, when we really needed it, the moisture came, from Memorial Day on,” Hogan said. “There’s been a lot of grass made, a lot of browsing material, such as forbs, and a tremendous acorn crop.”
Good browsing means more and larger deer and can even affect the size and development of racks, he said.
“There was also a lot of oilseed made, and already we’ve had reports of good dove hunting,” Hogan said.
Deer hunting has a huge economic impact upon the 21-county Southwest AgriLife Extension district, which stretches from Sutton County at its northwest corner to Bastrop County, east of Austin, he said. The yearly average economic impact from 2010 through 2013 was about $550 million.
“Every hunter that comes to the region spends about $2,000 to hunt an average of 13 days,” Hogan said. “Oddly, enough, Texans are their own best customers. About 89 percent of the people who hunted in Texas are Texans.”
By far, the favorite animals to hunt in Texas are deer, he said. In the past few years, landowners have built a lot of high fences for deer farming.
“So there are a lot of exotic species to go along with our native white-tailed deer,” Hogan said. “There are a lot of fallow deer, exotic antelope and axis deer, which are a favorite because they have such a terrific rack.”
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
Central: Most counties reported the condition of soil moisture, rangeland and pastures, and crop conditions as fair. Overall, livestock were in good condition. After rains two weeks ago — along with warmer weather — most Bermuda grass fields were recovering from the drought. Small grains looked much better. Livestock were in good condition. Some producers who planted oats early were turning cattle into graze. Wheat and oats that were planted in the previous week needed rain, but rain was in the forecast. Many producers are planting more wheat instead of corn due to projected prices. Forages were generally in good shape.
Coastal Bend: Days were warm with temperatures in the low 80s and little humidity, with cool nights. The pecan harvest of earlier maturing varieties began. Farmers were catching up on fieldwork in preparation for the 2015 season. Fall activities were continuing at a normal pace with the exception of those rushing to take a last hay cutting before frost. Cattle were in good condition. After recent rains, most producers were optimistic about the next growing season but concerned about projected low commodity prices.
East: The haying season wound down. Producers had harvested a tremendous amount of hay. With cooler temperatures, winter pastures made good progress but could have used more rain. Most counties were in need of rain. Many producers continued to plant cooler-temperature forages. Counties in the western and southern areas reported short topsoil and subsoil moisture levels. Trinity County had high winds that dried out topsoils. Cattle remained in good to excellent condition. Many producers were finding it a hard choice to retain ownership of any potential replacement heifers with current market value. Fall calving was in progress. Feral hogs were active, and damage continued.
Far West: The region was dry and cool. Glasscock County had strong winds Nov. 1 – 2 that caused cotton to drop bolls on the ground. Subsoil and topsoil moisture ranged from adequate to short. Pasture and rangeland were rated fair to very poor. Upland cotton was generally in fair to good condition, with some fields harvested and others with bolls still opening. Grain sorghum was from 72 to 80 percent harvested. The sunflower harvest was completed. From 45 to 100 percent of winter wheat was emerged across the region. Glasscock County reported wheat was suffering from moisture stress, with newly emerged stands struggling and many fields starting to die. Other fields had skimpy stands. In El Paso County, Pawnee pecans were harvested, with Western varieties at 40 percent pecan shuck separation.
North: Topsoil moisture was adequate to short throughout the region, with no significant rains. Daytime temperatures were in the 70s, with nighttime lows in the 50s. Some low-lying parts of Bowie County had the first official freeze in the early morning of Nov. 1. The freezing temperatures were accompanied by a heavy frost. Pastures looked good, but some producers had to start providing supplemental feed to cattle. Winter wheat planting was nearly finished in some counties. Winter pasture grasses were emerging. Livestock were in good condition, though horn fly pressure remained high. The feral hog population was on the rise and continued to cause damage throughout the area.
Panhandle: Temperatures were near to slightly above average for most of the week. No moisture was received. The cotton harvest was in full swing in Collingsworth County and coming along in Hansford and Hall counties. Yields were better than anticipated. In other counties, low temperatures over the weekend helped knock some leaves off cotton, but in lieu of a real killing freeze, some farmers were spraying defoliants to aid harvest. The Hansford County peanut harvest was completed. Yields and quality were slightly above average. Deaf Smith County corn was doing very well, with many fields finally drying out. Grain sorghum there was doing well too, with several fields harvested with good yields being reported. Hay crops were still being swathed and baled, with many acres yet to be harvested. Deaf Smith producers were scurrying to get crops harvested and to get wheat planted before the freeze. Wheat was looking good, though it needed rain, but there were a few producers grazing cattle on wheat already. The Hall County peanut harvest was going well. The Hansford County corn harvest was finished except for about 1,000 acres that were hailed out early and had to be replanted. Soybean yields were averaging 60 to 65 bushels per acre. Producers were planting wheat behind the corn harvest. The Lipscomb County corn harvest was almost completed, and the grain sorghum harvest was underway. Ochiltree County wheat planting was completed. Stands looked excellent. The corn harvest was nearing completion, though some late-planted fields still needed to dry down. All Wheeler County corn was harvested except for some late-planted fields.
Rolling Plains: Rain showers fell in parts of the region, with as much as 1.25 inches reported. Other parts of the region remained dry. Wheat fields that received rain were responding and showing new growth. Some wheat looked really good, while other fields were hit by armyworms and grubs. With much cooler temperatures all week, native and improved warm-season pastures showed little to no growth. Producers continue to overseed small grains into summer pastures. Cotton gins were running constantly in some counties. Yields from irrigated acres were good. Livestock remained in good to fair condition. A good portion of the spring calf crop was sold over the last few weeks with excellent prices received. Stock water tanks and lakes still needed runoff water. The pecan harvest continued, with good yields reported.
South: Temperatures throughout the region were much cooler, with scattered showers later in the week. In the northern part of the region, from 0.75 to 1 inch of rain was received. Peanut harvesting was slowed by the rain. The planting of wheat and oats was completed, with most of the crop emerged. Rangeland and pasture remained mostly in fair condition. Supplemental feeding remained steady. Cattle body condition scores were low to fair as producers weaned spring calves. Soil moisture was mostly adequate in Atascosa and Frio counties, and short in McMullen County. In the eastern part of the region, Brooks County reported 0.56 inch of rain. Jim Hogg County reported moisture in the form of early-morning fog, but no rain. Jim Wells County forage conditions declined due to lack of rain. Overall, rangeland and pastures remained in fair to good condition. Livestock producers continued supplemental feeding. Soil moisture was short throughout most of the area, except in Brooks County, where it was adequate. The western part of the region only received light showers. Field preparations for next season’s crops continued. Webb County growers were planting winter oats. Livestock producers continued supplemental feeding and were stocking up on hay for the winter. Some producers were rebuilding herds. However, the restocking process was proceeding slowly due to the high costs of replacements. In Zavala County, pecan harvesting continued, and irrigated cabbage, onions and spinach were progressing well. Soil moisture was mostly adequate in Dimmit, Maverick and Zavala counties, with Webb County reporting short levels. In the southern part of the region, Cameron County received light showers late in the week, and crop producers reported all crops progressing well. Hidalgo County growers were planting onions and cabbage. In Starr County, fall vegetable crops were doing well, and hay baling continued. Willacy County received 0.5 inch of rain. Soil moisture was mostly adequate in Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy counties, and short in the Starr County.
South Plains: The cotton harvest was in full swing throughout the region, with many producers using harvest aids, hoping they could finish before bad weather set in. The Floyd County harvest will be ‘spread out’ this year due to early rains and hail that required many fields to be replanted. The harvesting of cotton, grain and corn will likely continue until December. The weather was dry, and cooler temperatures were expected for the coming week. Garza County reported that regrowth in cotton was difficult to control after rains last month. Cotton yields appeared to vary widely from dryland and irrigated crops. Rangeland and pastures were still mostly in good to excellent condition. Lubbock County producers increased harvest efforts during a dry week in advance of increasing rain chances. Approximately half of the cotton crop there received harvest-aid treatments. Some early planted grain sorghum has been harvested , but re planted sorghum and corn remained in the field. Winter wheat looked good. Swisher County producers were also hustling to defoliate cotton before a rain or freeze. The grain sorghum harvest there was in full swing even though moisture levels were high and yields are lower than expected. The second and third cuttings of hay grazer were finished, and wheat was in great condition. Some wheat fields had been negatively affected by early signs of rust and green bug infestations. Silage harvesting in Bailey County was nearly done, and cotton harvesting began, with average yields reported.
Southwest: Dry weather continued with no rain and cooler temperatures. Winter pastures needed rain. Row crops, pastures and rangeland remained in good condition. The pecan harvest was ongoing, as well as planting of small grains for grazing. The sesame harvest began. Some late-season hay harvesting continued. Fly populations declined, and producers began supplemental feeding of cattle on rangeland. Most native grasses had seeded and gone dormant. Livestock and wildlife were in good condition. Browsing for deer, including acorns, was very plentiful.
West Central: The entire area needed rain. Dry, windy conditions depleted soil moisture. Daytime temperatures were mild and nights cool. Producers increased field activities, mainly planting small grains. Some wheat was planted, but most growers were waiting on a rain. Early planted small grains were mostly in good condition but were beginning to show moisture stress. The cotton harvest was in full swing, with mostly good yields. Some late-planted fields were being sprayed with harvest aids. All late-planted sorghum was harvested. Some end-of-season hay harvesting continued. Rangeland and pastures were in fair condition and still looked good but will need moisture soon to keep winter grasses growing. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. Fall cattle work was ongoing. Pecan harvesting began with promising early yields.