The nip in the air that arrived mid-week has local hunters poised to head to the stands for the opening of deer season this Saturday.
The general gun season opener kicks off and runs through Jan. 5, 2020 in north Texas. Texas Parks and Public Safety Game Warden Chad West said a good season may be shaping up.
"We had a good spring and plenty of things for the deer to eat," West said. "The reports I'm getting from different guys is they're getting pictures of deer on camera so it should be a really good year."
With an estimated 5.3 million deer in the statewide white-tailed deer population, Texas hunters heading to the field figure to fill their freezers with this season’s bounty.
“Good fawn production this year should help maintain the overall population and provide an abundance of deer for hunters to pursue,” said Alan Cain, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s white-tailed deer program leader. “We’ve seen a slow but steady growth in the statewide population over the last 15 years.
"Our main focus in deer season is safety," West said. "We tell everybody not to load your rifle until you get set up in you deer stand and unload it before you come down. That's how most of our hunting accidents happen."
When going hunting, let someone know your plans so they'll know where you might be if you have a mishap.
Many Henderson County hunters head out of town to track their deer, there are plenty who keep it close to home.
"We have quite a few deer camps here in the county, but most people hunt on their own private property," West said. "We'll see them at the residence or bump into them at the processor."
Unfortunately, while most hunters observe the regulations, there are many who try to gain an advantage by ignoring the rules.
"Most of the poaching we get will be at night with people using lights and shooting off county roads," West said. "If you see a spotlight or hear a gunshot late at night, call the sheriff's office and they'll holler at us. There are only three game wardens in the county so we need all of the help we can get to catch these guys late at night."
West is from Athens and has been a game warden since 2008. While making sure hunters are safe and obeying the law is his job, he enjoys the sport as a participant.
" I love to hunt," West said. "I do a lot of bow hunting, but now with my little boys getting older. I'm kind of switching my focus from me to them to introduce them to the outdoors."
According to a recent report from Lands of America.com, the total value of 5,000 acres of hunting land listed for sale in Henderson County was nearly $31 million. The average price of hunting land for sale in Henderson County was $3 million. Common game species to be found on hunting land for sale in Henderson County include whitetail deer, dove, pig, turkey and quail.