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Forums: Deer Hunting in General: Texas Drought in Photos

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This deer lives on a large high fenced ranch.  The feeders never went dry this summer and water is well distributed throughout the property.  The culling program is very intense and the habitat management is second to none.  These deer have everything they need to grow big and strong and so when a buck grows a rack, you see his genetics and not have to worry if it is nutrition or not. 
As big as this deer is, the landowner has already decided NOT to shoot him this year but instead to let him breed and get older.  


Was this deer on a low fence ranch? He has done very well this year in the drought and are there any awensers of why the bucks are doing so well this year?

It is not all gloom and doom in Texas this year, however.  There are some giant monster bucks to be had this fall and today I was lucky enough to catch up to one of those rare creatures.  I apologize for the poor quality of these photos, but it was getting too dark for quality photos and this buck heard my truck on the gravel and moved out well ahead of me.  I was pushing my camera as hard as I could to get these few photos.  This is a native McMullen County buck and I think (not positive) he is only five years old this year. 
Yes, he has at least twenty points!

Dang, I love my job!


I have been doing extensive helicopter surveys in the past three weeks all over central Texas and the western hill country.  If you are still wondering how the wildlife are suffering from this historic drought, let me share just a few photos with you. 

So, if your ranch is overstocked with livestock, you carry too many whitetails, fail to feed or water them properly, you may have a shock once you head to the ranch soon.   All of these photos above are correctable and preventable.  If these photos look like your ranch, you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself some hard questions.

It is not all bad in Texas this year.  I will share some giant buck photos soon.  These are the worst I have found so far.  The drought has been tough on wildlife this summer.


-- 9/30/2011 9:48:22 PM: post edited by macy.

 We drove through western McCulloch on Sunday between Menard and Brady.  We noticed that country did not look near as bad as western Menard.  

Stage 4 Water Restrictions--zero outdoor watering for homes or businesses, no exceptions.  Car washes closed.  Home football games cancelled, only road games for the rest of the year.  Restaurants not offering water unless you ask for it.  
Brownwood, about one hour north, has one years of water reserves left in the remanants of Lake Brownwood, they are already Stage 2 and headed to Stage 3.

I did a helicopter survey this morning near Marble Falls--central Texas.  The ranch is (was) loaded with natural springs and the water flowed from many small springs and seeps.  Today ALL springs were bone dry and the Post Oak and Spanish Oak trees were defoliating.  The deer looked physically healthy but the habitat was hammered pretty hard.

Tomorrow I will be in western McCullough County (Brady, TX) and will report to you my findings when I get a chance.


           I looked back at your previous post about Llano and all their water problems. What was the final conclusion on the football games? Are they still playing at home or somewhere else?

We're seeing the same with our oaks.  Should we expect to lose some??  Scary thought.

I did a helicopter survey yesterday in the western portion of central Texas--Kimble County (Junction) to be specific. The Spanish oaks have already defoliated and the Live Oaks are in the process.  Also, note the cedar (ash juniper) turning red and fixing to defoliate. 

If you are a browsing animal, like a whitetail deer, and make a living from the native green vegetation,  what do you think they are eating now?  Times are very hard in Texas right now but few places are harder hit than the central hill country region.


Yes, they will return home first chance they get.  Same with habitat disturbance, they will leave to avoid the temporary disruption but once things return back to normal, they will return.  Deer are territorial, especially females and mature males and they like to stay at home and in their comfort zone.


If deer run out of water in an area will they ever come back to that area?

I certainly do wish i could have sent you a few inches of our rain this summer

Yes sir brandonblaylock, deer (other wildlife too) are relocating to wherever the water is at.  The mighty Colorado River, the longest river in Texas, is now bone dry in much of San Saba County.  The San Saba River is spring fed and still has ample water--thanks to the springs in Menard County to the west.

I have said it before that there is usually SOMETHING to eat when all the preferred plants are missing, but there is NOTHING else left to drink when the water is gone.  For those of you lacking water, check out the Featured Videos on the Home Page on how to construct a cheap and easy to install watering facility on your ranch.  You don't have to add volume of water, just have some available for the animals.


As far as San Saba County is concerned I have just opened a funeral home up there and my family has been there for over a hundered years and here lately I have been spending quite abit of time in the pasture.  we still have some water and that is holding the deer.  However the only place with any great amout of water to my knowledge is the san saba river.  The Majority of the Colorado is completely dry and those deer have migrated towards the San Saba river.  Macy is what you have seen as well

Originally posted by macy

I live in northern San Saba County and it is bad.  Yes, most ponds are dry and deer are struggling.  Of my five ponds, only one has about two weeks of water left in it.  Yesterday I had three young bucks come up near the house looking around as if they were searching for something in particular.  My dogs scared them off so I hope they found what they needed. 
I am started my surveys in the area now and surprising, the bucks look pretty good overall.  Fawns are way way down but I have seen some impressive bucks so far and I am impressed.

Without water, your deer will definitely leave.  They have to drink every day in this heat and so they will temporarily relocated closer to water as a survival technique.


Where is your place Macy? My wife's family fams and ranches in Lampasas, Mills, and San Saba County. We've got country in all three counties. She is a Maddox, her mother was a Shahan. I'll be up there checking feeders and tanks this weekend. Would love to buy you lunch at the cafe in San Saba. Give me a shout on the cell (512)787-1849.

Gen. 1:24 And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures.."
I live in northern San Saba County and it is bad.  Yes, most ponds are dry and deer are struggling.  Of my five ponds, only one has about two weeks of water left in it.  Yesterday I had three young bucks come up near the house looking around as if they were searching for something in particular.  My dogs scared them off so I hope they found what they needed. 
I am started my surveys in the area now and surprising, the bucks look pretty good overall.  Fawns are way way down but I have seen some impressive bucks so far and I am impressed.

Without water, your deer will definitely leave.  They have to drink every day in this heat and so they will temporarily relocated closer to water as a survival technique.


 So does anyone know how san saba is doing in this severe drought? I heard all of our ponds on our ranch are dried up and i am worried that the deer are going to leave.If they leave i dont know where they are going to go if there is no water any where else.

Good thing your "windage" didn't cause a spark and start a fire!  Not that there is enough grass to burn now......


Good Pic's and great info Macy !  A real bummer to see the big bucks and the little ones taken out by the extream weather .
I have noticed the same thing at my water trough , the deer hit it first thing in the mourning before going to feed , then I see them late at night filling their bellies when it's cooler .
I have never sceen my place this dry ! Last week I was up there filling a feeder , and bent over to pick the lid up , and broke wind that caused a big dust cloud behind me ...LOL ..


Live Life At Fulldraw

Top photo is in downtown Llano, Tx----Deer Capitol of Texas.  They are considering cancelling ALL home high school football games this year due to water restrictions (football field watering, bathroom use by local and visiting fans).

The bottom photo was found in northern Jim Wells County, between George West and Alice. 


-- 8/24/2011 4:37:53 PM: post edited by chriswd.

-- 8/24/2011 4:49:04 PM: post edited by macy.

It depends on how reliable and available the water is.  If water is readily available, deer will drink twice per day in this heat.  Usually they drink early in the morning before bedding down to sit out the heat in the shade and then once they get up to or while feeding at night once the temperatures cool off.  Last week, the deer were not moving at all until about 11:30 pm.  This week, however, they are moving alittle earlier in the night.  So, just like you and I, they drink more when it is really hot and less when it is cool.
If water is scarce and they have to travel a long ways and compete for water, they will drink as much as their bellies will hold because they know the trip and timing is hard to do.  They will literally drink until they can't hold any more and then walk away.
The books will tell you that a whitetail will drink about one gallon per day per head.  I don't believe this becasue of the factors above, body size, geographical location, forage type consumed, etc.  Deer held in captivity in pens drink ALOT of water because their diet consists of bone-dry feed and alfalfa hay so each deer drinks at least two plus gallons of water per head per day.  Deer in the wild have access to forbs and browse and mast that contain water and so they likely consume less per day per head.

I don't think there is a good solid honest answer for across the board deer here.  But remember how your consumption changes with the temperatures and I think you get the idea.  Hot means more and cold means less.


Macy- given our drought, and this time of year (100 deg days, etc) how much water per adult deer (gallons per day?)

I am working on a grant that will help pay for a well. If I could finance the thing, I would do it.. but no-one loans money for a well and a personal loan is way outside the realm of our chances. After next spring, when I build the cabin, we will have the equity to get it done, but that does not help now, I know.

But water is #1 on my list, just a #1 I cannot get done yet :(


Never date a woman big enough to beat ya up
In summer of 2007 dad and I ran four new water lines on our 479 acre property in Hays county.  Three water troughs and a line to one of our wet weather creeks.  That WASNT a fun weekendOur deer and cattle dont have to travel more than 1/2 mile between water sources and free choice feeders are placed close to the water.  Total we 5 different water sources on the ranch that the deer can and do utilize.

I cant imagine where we would be today without the water.

Last night I was looking at our big topo map trying to figure out if I have any holes I need to fill.  I may run one more line about 1/3 of a mile to a high spot where I can put water in by what is normally a natural little spring.

One thing about a drought:  there is usually always something to eat.  It may not be preferred and it may not be the best thing to eat but there is usually SOMETHING else to eat and fill your belly.  But there is no second place or substitute for water.  Deer don't drink beer or gatorade so when the water is gone, they leave or die and it is just that simple. 
They can eat tree bark, some grasses, less palatable brush species, leaves, twigs, cacti, etc and survive.  They won't flurish or gain weight, but they will survive.  But there is no substitute for water so they simply leave or die without it. 
If you have a choice to spend your time and money on, pick the water or your efforts will be for not.  Dead  deer don't eat feed.



Forums: Deer Hunting in General: Texas Drought in Photos

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This Agreement will be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Texas, without regard to its conflicts of law rules. You expressly agree that the exclusive jurisdiction for any claim or action arising out of or relating to this Agreement or your use of the Services will be filed only in the federal courts located in the State of Texas, or state courts located in Fort Bend County, Texas. You further agree and submit to the exercise of personal jurisdiction of such courts for the purpose of litigating any such claim or action. You agree that regardless of any statute or law to the contrary, any claim or cause of action arising out of, or related to, use of the Services or this Agreement must be filed within one (1) year after such claim or cause of action arose, or be forever barred. Disputes must be settled by arbitration utilizing the dispute resolution procedures of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) in Houston, Texas.

Refund Policy

Whitetail Domains will not honor any refunds for any paid Whitetail Domains services, including without limitation Member account payments, more than thirty (30) days after you last submitted such payment to Whitetail Domains. Should you find the need to request a refund, please email Customer Service or call us at 1-281-633-2334.


You may not assign any rights granted to you or delegate any of your duties hereunder; any attempt to do so is void and of no effect. Whitetail Domains may assign its rights and delegate its duties under this Agreement in their entirety in connection with a merger, reorganization or sale of all, or substantially all, of its assets relating to this Agreement. The failure of Whitetail Domains at any time to require performance of any provision hereof shall in no manner affect its right at a later time to enforce the same unless the same is waived in writing. If a court should find that one or more rights or provisions contained in this Agreement are invalid, you agree that the remainder of the Agreement will be enforceable. The headings and captions are for convenience only and are not to be used in the interpretation of this Agreement. This Agreement constitutes the complete and exclusive understanding and agreement between you and Whitetail Domains regarding its subject matter, and supersedes all prior and contemporaneous agreements or understandings relating to such subject matter.

If you have any questions or concerns about this Agreement or any issues raised in this Agreement or on the Site, please contact Whitetail Domains at the Contact Us page.
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