Lake Sam Rayburn

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Whitetail Deer Hunting Prospects Look Good


Alan Cain, the whitetail program leader for TPWD reported the statewide deer population is going to be right around 4.3 million to 4.6 million range. If you look at statewide trends, it’s slowly creeping up each year. This fall and winter will be on par with previous seasons in most whitetail hot beds across the state.

The Hill Country still has the highest estimate at about 2.6 million. There’s one particular management unit in the Llano-Mason area that has the highest deer density in the state, roughly 285 per 1,000 acres. TPWD always recommends hunters to use their tags, especially doe tags, in those areas with higher numbers. This should be another good year for hunters in terms of how much venison they can put in the freezer.

Cain noted that weather patterns from the summer of 2017 through the summer of 2018 were inconsistent, with the obvious landfall of Hurricane Harvey in August 2017 having an impact on some portions of the state deer herd. Heavy rain this fall in some parts of the state may make it difficult getting to some favorite deer hunting locations.

There wasn’t any significant reports of adult mortality or fawn mortality (as a result of Harvey). That doesn’t mean it didn’t occur, but the Deer Management Unit in the Houston area that runs east toward the Louisiana border and up into the Pineywoods did receive significant flooding as a result of the hurricane.
What it ultimately may have done is displace a lot of deer in that area and a lot of them were able to get out and get to higher ground.

TPWD biologists did see a reduction in deer densities in that area but that’s due to not being able to run all of the Department’s surveys in that area.

Other areas of the state also inundated with moisture as a result of the hurricane saw differing effects from the storm. Victoria and back toward other parts of the Post Oak Savannah, even with all the moisture, still had decent deer numbers.
Deer density is still above 60 deer per 1,000 acres in those areas.

Cain thinks that this will be a good year, maybe not exceptional, but still a good year. Most places had decent range conditions this spring.There was good browse and forbs available, even it went dormant as it got hot. In general, across the state, Texas had good fawn crops in 2010 and 2013, so that would translate into more 5½-year-old and 8½-year-old bucks, relative to other age classes out there.

Photo: Denton County Buck, courtesy TPWD


Tom Behrens has over 50 years experience in fishing and hunting across the United States. Much of this time was spent in Oklahoma and Texas where he became very familiar with the outdoor opportunities in these states. You may contact him by email at:

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Lake Sam Rayburn Water Level (last 30 days)

Water Level on 8/14: 162.35 (-2.05)

Lake Sam Rayburn Fishing Report from TPWD (Aug. 12)

GOOD. Water stained; 85 degrees; 1.77’ low. Largemouth bass are good, mostly early with weaker evenings. Your successful spots will be consistent like large points, man-made brush piles on light-colored crankbait worms, and jigs. White bass are fair with minnows. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs under structures and suspending over mid-depth structure. Catfish are good on live and stinkbait.