Today's Headlines
Home » News » Outdoor News » “As Deer Season ends, consider Texas” says Harold Smith

“As Deer Season ends, consider Texas” says Harold Smith

*Editor’s Note: Greenwood’s Patti and Harold Smith have traveled the world in search of big game and adventure. They are kind enough to share their stories, photos and the knowledge they have acquired about distant lands, foreign governments, tribal customs and wildlife with your editor for use in this popular segment that is unique in Arkansas. Few newspapers anywhere have the opportunity to share this type of experience with their readers. We appreciate Patti and Harold and the time they have given to this ongoing project. The memories are theirs, the stories are yours and any mistakes are the personal property of the editor!

The end of the year meant the close of Deer Season in Arkansas except for archers and a few youth hunts in some zones.

Consider this: Deer Season is open in most Texas Counties until January 19th this year.  Texas ranks fifth in the all-time number of Boone & Crockett entries for large buck.  There are 700,000 dear taken in Texas each year and there are about that many licenses sold each year. The averages are good!  Deer management began in Texas. The ranches give the animal every opportunity to grow to a ten pointer before allowing it to be taken by hunters and the smaller culls are removed to allow for growth and breeding of the larger deer. Hunters are allowed to scout the deer they want before the season opens. Harold Smith has been sending Greenwood hunters to Texas for years. “Native deer, turkey, quail, white wing dove, javalina (native American Wild Boar) and fallow deer are all in season at the same time in most Texas counties” says Smith, not to mention ducks and geese. (There, hunting is regulated by county, not just zones.) There are lots of deer leases advertising for hunters and licenses can be bought over the counter. As for deer, remember that when rutting season is ending in Arkansas, it is just beginning in Texas-that, of course, is when you will mostly likely find the largest bucks out of hiding.

Leases can be had for $5.00 to $10.00 per acre in East Texas and for $10.00 to $15.00 per acre in the Hill Country area. South Texas, where the largest deer are found, sees leases starting at about $12.00 per acre.

Now add this to the adventure. Smith calls Texas a “Hunter’s Paradise” for many reasons, but here is where it gets interesting: Texas abounds in exotic game animals brought there to proliferate. “Exotic game hunting in Texas knows no equal and knows no season says Smith. There is no “season” on any wildlife that is not native to Texas. Game that one would normally travel to Asia, Europe or Africa to hunt can be found on hunting ranches in Texas. Pay a daily fee for room and board and a trophy fee for anything you take. Ranches and accommodations range from Spartan to luxurious.

“Exotic big game on Texas hunting ranches is the perfect example of wildlife management” says Smith quoting the Ninth chapter of Genesis-“’The fear and dread of you shall be in every animal of the earth and every bird of the air.’” Smith also quotes Teddy Roosevelt saying that a “fair hunt” is where “the animal can detect you and has a means of escape.” The Texas hunting ranches are high fence enclosures of as much as 20,000 acres. “You can hunt all week and never find the fence” says Smith, “make no mistake, this is not hunting trapped animals.”

As long as there is a market for the animals being stalked, the hunters and ranchers will see to it that there is a culling process to be sure that the strongest and most prized will survive and proliferate. Anytime the value is lost in the animal (or activists prohibit hunting), the animal becomes lost to the natural survival of the fittest and dissipates. That is what has happened to many species of big game in Africa. They have become extinct because no one hunts them, they have no value and the natural selection process drives them into extinction. In fact, several species grown in Texas have now been sent back to Africa to help curb this natural process. “When an animal has value-conservation will follow” says Smith. It’s a thought provoking statement and it’s true. The animal only has value if hunters want it and if hunters want it, the ranchers will see to it that the animals thrive, procreate and are culled to avoid extinction, curb disease and promote growth.  There are also found on these ranches the natural predators of these exotic breeds of wildlife including fox, bobcats, coyotes and mountain lions. Mountain lions can be hunted with an over-the-counter license and there is no quota on the take.

There are 125 species of exotic animals on Texas hunting ranches.  The grasslands there are similar to those of the animal’s native lands. Many are of these varieties grow their horns in our summertime as they are native to the southern hemisphere. Many do not shed their horns at all, thus, they make for great trophy animals during seasons not otherwise available to Arkansas hunters-unless the hunter travels to Africa or the Asian continent.

Smith recommends a guided hunt for your first adventure. Match your temperament, interests, travelling companions, levels of skill and price range to the hunt.

Smith and other Greenwood area hunters have traveled to Texas for exotic species. C.V. Coombs who has traveled the world with the Smith’s has taken trophy buck, black buck and other species of wild game in Texas. The Driscoll brothers-Marty and Marion-have killed Black Buck (native to India) and other game on hunting trips to Texas with Smith. Smith and his son Harold Wayne Smith have traveled there to hunt deer and other game. Harold Wayne took a sixteen point buck there.

In 2012, hunting the “three Amigos” was halted. They are the Scimitar horned oryx, the Addax and the Dama Gazelle-all three are spiral horned wild game that like most spiral horned animals, do not shed their horns each year as branched horned animals do. The “Three Amigos” have neared extinction because of activists’ interest that resulted in no management of the herds-thus a failure to proliferate. When they have repopulated, hunting will resume as the value will have returned. Make no mistake about it, hunting and wildlife management have a place in this world.

In addition to elk and red stags (European deer) Smith has hunted in Texas for the Sika (the cousin to an elk) and for Aoudad (a type of goat that some biologists argue is a type of sheep). The Sika is among the most illusive of wild game and takes ten years to grow thirty inch horns. The Sika sheds it horns each year. The Aoudad has rams horns and does not shed them.

For added sport, Texas promotes hunting the “Texas Slam.” That’s the hunting of four species of sheep that have all cross bred into a subspecies of four different sheep beginning with the Asia Mouflon. This crossbreeding with native sheep has produced four varieties-White, Black, Brown and Corsican. There is talk among Texas sportsmen of adding the Aoudad as a fifth species to the “Texas Slam” (if it really is a variety of sheep).

Coming soon will be a story of Wild Game experiences with exotic species closer to home with Smith and your editor as well as a trip to game preserves and then “Back to Africa” as this segment continues.

PSG Pharmacy
PSG Pharmacy