Following two years of above-average rainfall, it was bound to get drier sometime, and 2017 was the year. The annual total showed just close to an average year of about twenty inches, but those of us in the country could testify differently. We'd say the rainfall was "spotty."
A friend who farms cotton made of tour of West Texas in the fall to check the crop over a wide swath of the state. He reported seeing "some of the best cotton ever" and "some of the worst-ever cotton." And he said the fields might not be but a couple miles apart. His analysis best sums up the 2017 deer year, too.
Our guides reported rutting activity at least three weeks earlier than normal. So it follows that, for some reason, Mother Nature wants her fawns to come earlier than normal.
Then, as the season's end approached, we were finding numerous bucks which had already shed their antlers. Is this an effect of the dry weather? Or what?
Because of the dry weather which befell us during the late summer and fall, some observers (mainly me) were predicting an unusual number of broken tines on the antlers. Sure enough, there was some of that, to be sure, but not nearly as wide-spread as feared. Lots of bucks, even well after the rut (and the fighting), were still sporting intact antlers. The season's "Buck of the Year" which was taken in mid-December at the McManus Camp, taped 152 inches, but one tine, estimated at 2.75 inches to match the opposite side, was missing. You can't measure them if they ain't there. But there were plenty of others with perfect, undamaged headgear.
Since back when the 2016 season began during the time of the presidential election, our inquiries have been strong. Our 2017 list of hunters was as full as it has been in many a year. And re-bookings from 2017 clients has our list of available dates for 2018 at a record-low number. There are a few slots open, but not many. A new feature of this website is the listing of open dates both for deer in the fall and turkeys in the spring. When a change comes, I try to update the site just as soon as possible. Such information has proven handy to interested hunters. They can quickly and easily learn our open dates. But remember: nothing is carved in stone.
The fact is that changes do come. Hunters call to cancel or to move a date when their kids set wedding dates, a boss schedules a meeting, a daughter announces a birth date for a grandchild, unexpected health issues arise for the hunter or spouse - or any number of things. So if you don't see a hunt date that works for you, please continue to check every week or so.
Once again this season, good bucks were taken from the beginning of the year right through to the end. With our low-fence, fair-chase hunting at both camps, it is nigh-on to impossible to predict when a top-end buck might be taken. Our best advice it this: just come when it is convenient for you.