Hunting is big business in Texas. In fact, at $1.7 billion in hunting-related retail spending in Texas each year, the state leads the nation in the most money spent for hunting sales, and when the multiplier for lease revenues, hotels, fuel and food are included, the overall impact grows to over $3.6 billion a year.
Obviously, wildlife management and health are critically important not only to the state and every taxpayer who benefits from the economic support offered by the state's hunting and fishing industry, but especially to rural property owners who provide deer hunting services and facilities.
A complicated formula for determining the total number of hunting day opportunities in the state (number of hunters times the number of seasonal hunting days for deer and waterfowl), shows that Texas offers the largest number of days to hunters of any state in the nation with just over 14 million each year.
Hunter, revenue prospects for 2013 season
While a clear dozen or more respectable hunting forecasts are published each year, each with quality information about prospects broken down by regions and in a few instances by counties, an overview of several of them seem to agree on a number of points about the upcoming 2013-2014 Texas whitetail open deer season, which started in both north and south zones on Nov. 2.
Widespread rainfall across much of the state helped to bring relief to troubling drought conditions in most areas of the state, especially in the east and southeast regions of Texas, along the coast into south Texas and into the Texas Hill Country. Even out west, biologists say rainfall in late summer helped restore some natural growth that will benefit wildlife this year.
A few hunting forecasts project a better-than-average harvest with deer running larger and more abundant than last year—perhaps the best in 2 to 3 years. In addition, at least two Texas outdoor magazines and recent information circulated through a newspaper syndication service point to one of the best whitetail deer seasons in recent years with high lease-revenue expectations and a good chance for a bumper harvest.
Last year Texas hunters achieved a deer-per-hunter ratio of 0.91 deer per hunter, not bad for what many consider an off year. Estimates this year average just over one deer per hunter, in spite of more hunters predicted for the season. If this prediction holds, and the weather cooperates in the spring and again next fall, analysts say that could greatly enhance the chances of an even better 2014-2015 hunting year, along with a healthier and positive economic impact for rural Texas.
Forecasters say better habitat awareness and management over the last two years of drought, regardless in what corner of the state one might hunt, harvest opportunities are going to be better and as importantly, most deer should be healthier than over the last two years.