"County deer hunting: Impressive harvest numbers, quality" Aaron Sumrall, PhD Matagorda County Extension Agent – Agriculture/Natural Resources Texas A&M AgriLife

   Far before the hint of light begins to grace the eastern skyline in the fall and winter months, traffic begins to build on Matagorda County roads with not all heading to the various plants and industries, but into the more remote expanses of the county. 
   Matagorda County is termed the recreational capital of Texas in many conversational circles and articles which brings many folks from across the globe to enjoy what is in our back yard. 
   The Christmas bird count has indicated for more than two decades that Matagorda County is the undisputed birding king with its species diversity second to none. 
   Even if you are not a fishing or waterfowl fanatic, you would have to keep your head in the Matagorda Beach sand to not know that this is a nationwide destination for such adventures. Deer hunting within the county can sometimes be overlooked in the roughly $12 million injection to the county economy through outdoor recreation, however, deer hunting is 4th in generating outdoor revenue behind the three aforementioned. 
   Many believe that Matagorda County is in the realm of deer hunting purgatory oddly positioned between the forests of East Texas, the Texas Hill country, and the coveted South Texas brush country. 
   Many Matagorda County sportsmen and women know that not to be the case. 
   Deer hunting within the confines of Matagorda County can and does annually produce impressive harvest numbers and quality. 
   The cool thing about genetics is that it does not recognize county lines. 
   White-tailed deer genetics in Matagorda County is not significantly different to genetics in the remainder of Texas. 
   White-tailed deer performance depends on three aspects in order to exhibit the full potential of the species just like livestock which include age and nutrition coupled with genetics. 
   White-tailed deer do not typically hit their “glory years” until 4.5 years of age. 
   Wildlife managers, more often, discuss deer in the half-year because fawns are born in the spring and genetic expressions are easier observed in the fall. 
   When deer are young, as with all critters, they use immense amounts of nutritional quality to develop bone and muscle structure. 
   As physical growth and structural ossification begin to slow around the 4.5-year point, genetic expression can be more pronounced in other areas such as antler development. 
   Poor nutrition in the earlier years can, and does, inhibit deer from reaching full genetic potential.
   Matagorda County land dynamics and agricultural production is an asset to both the deer and the pursuing sportsmen and women at opposing times of the year. 
   During the spring and summer months crop lands occupy some 250,000 acres within the County providing deer with nutritional injections into diet while affording them the cover to remain hidden. 
   The tables metaphorically shift as summer turns to fall and the crop lands are harvested removing cover forcing the deer into different and smaller acreages of cover giving the advantage to the sportsmen and women. 
   This does not mean that hunting gets easy, only that deer must concentrate to the available feeding and bedding habitat. 
   Long hours many still be required in order to harvest the correct animal. 
   Deer hunting is far more involving that merely setting in wait for a trophy buck; it can be excellent family time. 
   Some of my fondest memories are setting and connecting with my kids in God’s Creation- uninterrupted! 
   The deer hunt is so much more than the animal being sought but is an opportunity to witness and experience an ever-changing canvas of nature with friends and family. 
   Stories told and remembered around a campfire or barbecue pit while at deer camp are remembered for generations with the deer being what brought everyone together and the success of the hunt being determined by the memories made and the time spent. 
   During this final few weeks of the 2020-21 deer season, I hope you get the chance to make it afield. 
   If you can, take a kid with you and expose them to something that a video game can never replicate. 

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