Your Fall Deer Hunting Success Starts Now

Summer is just around the corner and that means I have but one thing on my mind… deer hunting. There are a number of things to do to prepare for next deer season and I want to avoid doing them during the summer and early fall. The heat is killer down here in Texas during the summer — and during the “dog days of summer” it’s much more enjoyable to be to sitting in the shade drinking a cold one… or two.

I could wait until the early fall, but that be too late. I see no point in spooking up the deer using the property with last minute changes to my hunting areas. No, I’m going to be proactive and try to get some of these things done right now, while spring is still holding on by a toe nail. There are 4 things on my pre-season deer hunting agenda.

Pre-Season Deer Hunting Prep

Deer Stand Placement

Habitat work on this property last year included the removal of some thick brush in some select areas. While hunting this past season I noticed that deer now move through the property differently. Now the goal is to setup a new stand and move an existing one so that I can close the distance on the new deer travel corridors. Several stands means I will have good, safe options next hunting season regardless of wind direction.

In addition to keeping wind direction in mind, I like to also setup “morning” and “evening” stands. My stand placement almost always includes a travel corridor or pinch-point, but I also prefer that the stand be situated so that I am not looking into but rather away from the sun. This helps me see deer better, keeps me cooler during the early season and means not having to fight the sun.

Shooting Lane Prep

What’s a good deer stand without a place to get off a shot? An unproductive place to hunt. Once stands are situated I want to rough-cut some shooting lanes so that most of the work is done before summer sets in. When developing shooting lanes try to think about how the deer will travel through the area and the predominate wind direction so that you have an idea on how deer will approach the “death zone.”

The growing season does in include the summer months so shooting lanes will have to be re-visited and trimmed up just prior to hunting season, but this work should be minimal if the bulk of the work is done now.

Minerals for Deer

Another item on my punch list is to set up a new mineral station in the central part of my hunting property. The jury is still out on whether or not minerals actually increase the antler size of bucks on a property, but we do know that 1) deer love mineral sites and 2) it ain’t gonna hurt to put some minerals on the ground. This is especially true in high rainfall areas where the soil is leached or in sandy areas where mineral availability may be low.

Bucks will visit mineral sites but so will does. With the fawning season now upon us,  lactating does will definitely make use of supplemental mineral sources. Besides, I think mineral sites help keep deer moving through and hanging out on my hunting property, and that’s where I want them.

Prepare for Camera Surveys

Hunters with experience using game cameras know that good deer photos from motion-activated cameras do not just happen. Much like a deer hunting stand, a good camera site takes some scouting to find and usually at least some minor preparation. Once found, I like to aim game cameras looking down trails and facing north, away from the sun, if possible. My goal over the next week or so is to ID several good setups and get them prepped so that cameras can be deployed in late July for deer surveys and general scouting.

At least 2-3 cameras should be setup on just about any size property. More is always better, up to a point. I’ve been able to hunt small acreage successfully, as well as large acreage, but have noticed over the years that a short difference between camera sites makes a big difference in the animals that you catch on camera. Often times, another camera setup just 100 yards away will photograph different deer. I have found that a particular buck may show up at more than one camera site but will no doubt show preference for one area over another. This is an edge I will use to push the odds in my favor as deer hunting season rolls around.

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North American Deer Summit Annual Meeting

Annual Deer Summit Takes Place in Texas

The National Deer Alliance’s (NDA) 2017 North American Deer Summit will take place June 7-8 in Austin, Texas. The two day event will include sessions that hit on deer management topics such as the state of white-tailed and mule deer in North America, chronic wasting disease (CWD) and the political and social science wildlife agencies face when managing deer.

The North American Deer Summit is open to representatives of conservation organizations, wildlife management agency personnel, hunting industry leaders, and the outdoors media. Space at the annual meeting is limited and the event is less than a month away.

North American Deer Summit Hosted by NDA

Scope of NDA Deer Summit Meeting

The NDA Summit is a thought leadership event that aims to unite deer conservation organizations, state and federal agencies, hunting industry leaders, and the outdoors media to work collaboratively on behalf of deer hunters and our hunting heritage. There will be a number of panel discussions focusing on the hot topics of deer management such as CWD and agencies working with deer hunters for common goals.

“We are excited to have many of our top deer experts in North America attending to discuss the most important issues impacting wild deer and hunting today, said NDA president and CEO, Nick Pinizzotto. We are confident that this will lead to positive outcomes for the country’s most iconic game animal.”

Hunting Industry Helps Sponsor Deer Management Meeting

This is the third NDA Deer Summit in as many years. This is the first Summit hosted fully by NDA. Principle sponsors include: Bass Pro Shops, YETI, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Archery Trade Association, Alps OutdoorZ, Gray Loon Marketing, Mule Deer Foundation, Whitetails Unlimited, QDMA, and PhoneSkope. Event sponsors include: Wildlife Research Center, Wildlife Management Institute, Cabela’s and Sitka Gear.

YETI is offering a unique experience for summit attendees by sponsoring the opening night dinner festivities of “Beer & BBQ” at their flagship facility.

NDA Working for Deer & Hunters

This is the first Summit hosted fully by the National Deer Alliance. The mission of the National Deer Alliance is to serve as the guardian for wild deer conservation and our hunting heritage. The deer herds, hunters and wildlife agencies of North America face many challenges at this time. Be in the know. The event is less than one month away, so get more information, check out the agenda and register now if interested in attending.

Texas Deer Study Group Meets in Hill Country

The Texas Deer Study Group will convene May 11-12 at the Kuykendall Events Center, 2200 RR 152 in Llano, Texas. This year’s event will focus on “Land Stewardship: The Basis for Good Deer Management.” Hunters, land owners and everyone with an interest in white-tailed deer and deer management is encouraged to attend.

Texas Deer Study Group Agenda: Day 1

The program starts at 8 a.m. the first day of the annual meeting with a wide array of topics, including Land Stewardship and Deer management, Brush Management for Deer, Prescribed Burning and Habitat Management, Deer Nutrition, Deer Energetics, and What a Deer Eats and Why.

Texas Deer Study Group Annual Meeting

That afternoon, the first day will also cover a History of Deer Management in the Hill Country, Deer Harvest Strategies, Effectiveness of Deer Survey Techniques, How Deer Populations Impact Other Wildlife Species, Native Genetics and Quality, plus up to date information about Changes to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Managed Lands Deer Program (MLDP), Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), and it will end with a Speaker Panel Discussion.

Deer Study Group Agenda: Day 2

On day two, the group will meet at a local ranch for a half-day of presentations covering Getting to Know Your Deer, habitat management techniques and native vegetation.

Sponsorship will be available for businesses and individuals to support the Texas Deer Study Group meeting in Llano. If interested in attending, early registration is $45 until May 4 and $60 after that date. Anyone can register online or get more information via the Texas Wildlife Association website, or contact Clint Faas at

Texas’ New Deer Management Program has Options

The deer management and permit program offered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is going to see some changes in 2017. According to TPWD, the Managed Lands Deer Permit (MLDP) Program looks to take advantage of available technologies in order to better serve its customers. A faster, leaner online system will ensure the program runs as efficiently as possible.

Landowners participating in the wildly-popular MLDP will be able to complete the enrollment process and print their tags online beginning this summer, thanks to a new automated system being implemented by the TPWD. The new online process is just one aspect of a much-needed overhaul of the MLDP, which began in 1996 and has become so successful that it outpaced the department’s manpower and resources.

Deer Management Program in Texas

MLDP Participation

According to TPWD, there are currently more than 10,000 farms and ranches covering about 26 million acres that are enrolled in the MLD program. The program is designed to foster and support sound management and stewardship of native wildlife and wildlife habitats on private lands in Texas. Participation is recognized through incentive-based deer tag issuance that provides extended hunting season lengths and liberalized harvest opportunities beyond what is allowed under the county deer hunting regulations.

Participants also have access to varying levels of technical assistance regarding wildlife and habitat management from department biologists.

New MLDP Options

TPWD has simplified the program down to two options — Harvest or Conservation — from the previous three levels of white-tailed deer MLD, mule deer MLD, and the Landowner Assisted Management Permits (LAMPS). Both options retain issuance of deer tags that can be used during an extended hunting season about October 1 through the end of February, but the Harvest Option does come with early season buck harvest restrictions (archery equipment only in October for branched-antlered bucks). Antlerless and unbranched antler bucks may still be harvested by any legal means during the entire MLDP season.

Program Enrollment

Landowners seeking to enroll their property in either the MLDP Harvest or Conservation Option must use the new Land Management Assistance online system when it becomes available to submit an application for participation. The application process will require the landowner to create an account and to draw a property boundary in the online system.

An email address is required for the landowner and any designated agents the landowner may assign to the account. Read more about Land Management Assistance in Texas.

Land Management Assistance Online by TPWD

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) announced that it will be offering a new deer permit program in 2017, Land Management Assistance. The program will be the result of merging a couple of deer permit programs (MLDP+LAMPS) into two options, resulting in the Harvest Option and the Conservation Option.

Under the new deer permit program, participating landowners selecting the Harvest Option will receive automated deer harvest recommendations, tag issuance, and general correspondence about wildlife and habitat management for their property. No site specific deer population/survey data will be required under the Harvest Option, which also means property owners will not receive site specific harvest recommendations from a TPWD biologist.

Land Management Assistance Texas

The Conservation Option is similar in scope to the old Level 3 MLDP, and comes with customized technical guidance and harvest recommendations from TPWD, requiring at least 3 approved habitat management practices be implemented each year on a participating property.

Deer Management in Texas

TPWD currently issues about 330,000 deer tags each year through the MLDP Program. “Phenomenal growth in the MLD program over the last 20 years has presented significant challenges for staff to meet the increasing number of requests from landowners for technical assistance and simply administer the program,” explained Alan Cain, TPWD white-tailed deer program leader.

Effective this year, participants will be able to print their own MLDP tags, which will eliminate issues with tags lost in the mail, not arriving on time, or bad address, and provide greater convenience and flexibility to participants.

The system retooling won’t sacrifice the core mission of the program, Cain reassured, rather will enable limited wildlife biologist staff to focus private lands technical guidance efforts on site-specific wildlife population and habitat management recommendations.

Land Management Assistance Continued

“Our primary goal is to continue developing long-term relationships with private landowners, engage and educate them about the importance of management in promoting healthy habitats and wildlife populations, and ultimately put more resource conservation on the ground,” said Cain.

Despite the state’s economic growth, there is little doubt that white-tailed deer hunting and management will continue to be extremely popular in Texas. It will be interesting to hear how changes impact current program participants. Additional information and details about the deer management permit program is available online at TPWD.