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Open Range Hunting Questions #5503846 12/28/14 03:03 PM
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I have hunted on an open range deer lease since 1987 in Mason, Texas. I decided to go off the lease in 2005 after harvesting a free range 14-point buck. I returned to the lease 3 years ago and the population and quality are nowhere like they were when I last hunted it in 2005. I know the Hill Country and Texas has suffered through drought conditions. That's a factor. Large acreage parcels are being subdivided and sold off. That's a factor too. There's a significant amount of high fences being built in very close proximity as well. That's definitely a factor too. But how much of a factor? It would seem to me that the more property closed off to free range would be a barrier to free range. I'm not interested in the ethical/non ethical debate about high fences. I'm only interested in what these changing conditions may mean to the quality hunt time with my son. I see more evidence of predators on this place in general by the amount of Coyote scat. I'm assuming that high fences keep predators like Coyotes out and that increases the predator populations in the free range arena. Is that a logical conclusion? After this past weekend, it seems to me there are a lot of factors working against this wonderful quaint place.

Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: RAS] #5503852 12/28/14 03:06 PM
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I would be willing to bet there are more factors to what has happened to the land than what you are thinking or have eluded to. None of which are based on the height of the fences.



Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: RAS] #5503868 12/28/14 03:13 PM
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i would tend to think there are a lot of factors that could be the culprits
it was a great year for acorns in these parts ....
coyotes eat the fire out of deer
one lion could dent the population pretty well also
hunting pressure and or lack of management
neighbors and the overall harvest amounts
the list goes on ....
sometimes deer tend to change density in certain areas as well

Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: RAS] #5503873 12/28/14 03:16 PM
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Hard to say. But one has to have one's head firmly in the sand to think disrupting an area's travel patterns by erecting a barrier does not affect a given area. Have seen it personally. Way back in the '80s my landowner on a central Texas place shot a neighbor's sheep-killing dog. In retaliation, neighbor put up a HF that went across several draws that were active travel corridors for deer. Activity on both sides of the fence basically shut down over a wide (600+ acre) area. Not saying the deer disappeared. Am saying a big area basically became a deer desert as travel patterns that had been established for eons were forever disrupted.

It's just common sense. Mess with nature and things change in nature.


Originally Posted By: Russ79
I learned long ago you can't reason someone out of something they don't reason themselves into.


Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: RAS] #5503885 12/28/14 03:22 PM
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Place could have been terrorized by hunters over the last 9 years as well.


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Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: RAS] #5503888 12/28/14 03:23 PM
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The location of your place makes a difference as well as size matters.
I hunted on a 23,000 acre ranch for many years and once urban sprawl caught up to it the hunting began to change. No longer were deer from neighboring ranches able to travel between properties because of developement, and then later a high fence was put around the place for obvious reasons.
Even though it was managed it still wasn't the same as patterns changed and the deer were for all intents and purposes captive.
Now if you figure in the similar scenerio but downsize the property even by several hundred acres you would see similar but more pronounced results, especially with no management of the area due to it's size and not being able to control what other ranches do within their boundaries when it comes to hunting, you are probably right in your accessment.
As for the predators, they will follow the food supply, and then move on fence or no fence!

Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: RAS] #5503913 12/28/14 03:37 PM
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New barriers disrupt travel patterns to the deer for a time frame while they learn to adapt. Deer born into that area adapt quickly to them since they do not know any different. The game on the land travel the routes they learn today not from years before they were born.
Predators will go under and through a fence so they are still going to be an issue. I would also think if the area has less sheep and goats today than back then that predators are not being controlled. Droughts increase predator growth in many cases. Over grazing during a drought increases declines on many properties.



Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: RAS] #5503978 12/28/14 04:17 PM
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Sounds like to me the owner has a real problem and this will take years to correct or improve. The lease is approximately 800 acres. It may be better to move on to more fertile ground. Let's talk about East Texas. I own a ranch outside of Athens along a heavily wooded creek system. I never considered hunting the location, but the neighbors all claim there are Deer in the area. Would this be worth setting up a game pen, feeder, and etc? It would be definitely something the boys and I could do together. This would be quality time together that could result in some successful hunting. It would probably be much more meaningful in general instead of simply traveling to Mason for a weekend; and, Athens is closer to home too. As I type this, I'm reminded of some words my Mom told me after my Dad passed away in 1998. She said, "Sometimes we need to move on to a new chapter in our lives." I was debating the whole Mason Deer Lease back then because that was where Dad and I spent quality time together one on one during weekends. It was never the same from 1998 to 2005. I killed the 14-point by myself. At that time, my Wife and I had only one child and he was 2. Now since the boys are older, I guess I'm trying to hang onto something that was meaningful to me and wanting to share that with my boys. But in reality, we can certainly do that too without it being in Mason. Maybe I keep Mason as a special memory of my Dad and the place where Mitchell was introduced to deer hunting.

Last edited by RAS; 12/28/14 04:17 PM.
Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: RAS] #5503985 12/28/14 04:26 PM
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deer adapt to obstacles quickly ,they may change routes after a few no go situations but they wont just up and leave. as far as predators go i do know high coyote populations can severely impact the fawn crop by as much as a 75% mortality rate in some cases and like stated before high fences don't stop predators. they still get in for sure at some point . most likely the problem lies in something killing to many deer . again it could be multiple factors and it may even be a disease of some kind
....i am leaning towards the ole lead poisoning disease btw

Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: stxranchman] #5503989 12/28/14 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted By: stxranchman
New barriers disrupt travel patterns to the deer for a time frame while they learn to adapt. Deer born into that area adapt quickly to them since they do not know any different. The game on the land travel the routes they learn today not from years before they were born.
Predators will go under and through a fence so they are still going to be an issue. I would also think if the area has less sheep and goats today than back then that predators are not being controlled. Droughts increase predator growth in many cases. Over grazing during a drought increases declines on many properties.


Yeah, well, the deer on that ranch didn't learn for the next 15 years I was on the place-as the whole area remained basically devoid of deer. Since they couldn't go back and forth between using the travel corridors they had used forever, they moved out of the area completely. Saying they "adapt" is kind of meaningless. Certainly they adapt. They have to. It's what the "adaptation" results in that matters.


Originally Posted By: Russ79
I learned long ago you can't reason someone out of something they don't reason themselves into.


Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: RAS] #5503993 12/28/14 04:30 PM
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If there are deer there in Mason to hunt, believe me, the kids won't care about size or numbers.
I would keep hunting the area and taking the kids. They will remember the good times being out in the woods just like you did.
Nothing wrong with moving on to new land either, and if it's close by that means you can get out there more often and spend more time.
Sounds like a win, win either way!

Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: Nogalus Prairie] #5503994 12/28/14 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted By: Nogalus Prairie
Originally Posted By: stxranchman
New barriers disrupt travel patterns to the deer for a time frame while they learn to adapt. Deer born into that area adapt quickly to them since they do not know any different. The game on the land travel the routes they learn today not from years before they were born.
Predators will go under and through a fence so they are still going to be an issue. I would also think if the area has less sheep and goats today than back then that predators are not being controlled. Droughts increase predator growth in many cases. Over grazing during a drought increases declines on many properties.


Yeah, well, the deer on that ranch didn't learn for the next 15 years I was on the place-as the whole area remained basically devoid of deer. Since they couldn't go back and forth between using the travel corridors they had used forever, they moved out of the area completely. Saying they "adapt" is kind of meaningless. Certainly they adapt. They have to. It's what the "adaptation" results in that matters.

Nice to learn that deer only travel one direction. Sounds to me like the grass was greener on the other side of the fence then. Better habitat = better deer numbers. Some deer live their lives in a very small area while some travel more. That size area changes with weather and human traffic also.



Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: RAS] #5503995 12/28/14 04:32 PM
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After working on a high fenced ranch for a while, predators have no problem going in and out of a hf. So I don't think this would be one of the factors for the poor deer population. Over hunting/drought is more likely.

Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: stxranchman] #5504001 12/28/14 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted By: stxranchman
Originally Posted By: Nogalus Prairie
Originally Posted By: stxranchman
New barriers disrupt travel patterns to the deer for a time frame while they learn to adapt. Deer born into that area adapt quickly to them since they do not know any different. The game on the land travel the routes they learn today not from years before they were born.
Predators will go under and through a fence so they are still going to be an issue. I would also think if the area has less sheep and goats today than back then that predators are not being controlled. Droughts increase predator growth in many cases. Over grazing during a drought increases declines on many properties.


Yeah, well, the deer on that ranch didn't learn for the next 15 years I was on the place-as the whole area remained basically devoid of deer. Since they couldn't go back and forth between using the travel corridors they had used forever, they moved out of the area completely. Saying they "adapt" is kind of meaningless. Certainly they adapt. They have to. It's what the "adaptation" results in that matters.

Nice to learn that deer only travel one direction. Sounds to me like the grass was greener on the other side of the fence then. Better habitat = better deer numbers. Some deer live their lives in a very small area while some travel more. That size area changes with weather and human traffic also.


OK, they have zero effect. I am a liar. You know more about what took place on a ranch we were on for 45 years than I do. Sorry I weighed in.


Originally Posted By: Russ79
I learned long ago you can't reason someone out of something they don't reason themselves into.


Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: RAS] #5504104 12/28/14 05:35 PM
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I'm glad everyone has weighed in! This helps tremendously. I did not realize it was just as easy for predators to move in on a high fence. There are definitely different factors that have adversely affected this little "honey hole" since 2005. I think I'm going to place a feeder or 2 on our place in Athens and see what the trail cams capture. I've got plenty of time to decided before next season. I appreciate all the posts and insights!

Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: RAS] #5504120 12/28/14 05:43 PM
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If it were me I'd hunt the place closer to home since I would spend more time there and hunt it more often. You will be able to work on improving the resource over time with it closer to you. It would also allow you to enjoy it much more with the family. Family time spent outdoors is much more important today than you will realize now. In the future you will understand that statement much more than today.



Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: RAS] #5505491 12/29/14 04:16 AM
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I hunt my own property in north central Texas. Due to its odd shape, and the fact that it is bisected by a county road, I have TEN different places that border me. But, I basically only have one property to my west, and one to my east. About 10 years ago the place to my west was high fenced, for 3-4 years after that, there was a huge reduction in deer movement on my property, then they "adapted". Two years ago the place to my east was also high fenced. Now my 300 plus acres is practically devoid of deer. With all of the other 30-60 acre places around me, I feel that my chance for deer recruitment has taken a HUGE hit. One of the few neighbors that I speak to (different story altogether) had seen ONE DOE all season by the end of November. If I had the land and resources to put up a high fence I would do so in a second, but please dont try and tell me they dont negatively effect the properties around them.


Thank you...thank you very much
Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: crooked horn] #5506086 12/29/14 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted By: crooked horn
I hunt my own property in north central Texas. Due to its odd shape, and the fact that it is bisected by a county road, I have TEN different places that border me. But, I basically only have one property to my west, and one to my east. About 10 years ago the place to my west was high fenced, for 3-4 years after that, there was a huge reduction in deer movement on my property, then they "adapted". Two years ago the place to my east was also high fenced. Now my 300 plus acres is practically devoid of deer. With all of the other 30-60 acre places around me, I feel that my chance for deer recruitment has taken a HUGE hit. One of the few neighbors that I speak to (different story altogether) had seen ONE DOE all season by the end of November. If I had the land and resources to put up a high fence I would do so in a second, but please dont try and tell me they dont negatively effect the properties around them.


The high fences effected the deer movement, but it's what is happening between those high fences that is the reason for lack of deer. You can't control that, but it seems that it would happen even if no high fence were present at all.

Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: Jimbo] #5508461 12/30/14 05:03 PM
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Jimbo, the owner who put up the first fence was a friend of mine, before starting he visited with me and apologized profusely, said he could no longer tolerate the actions of the others around us (if its brown, its down). I told him not to worry, I have no issue with it, he can do whatever he wants with his land. Also, one fence line I will never have to maintain again. The second guy wanted to raise exotics, again, his business, no issue. The only "issue" I have is HF owners who want to claim it has no affect on others, when they know extremely well it does. I still kill a buck almost every year, mid 130s eight point this year, but I know my time to actually ENJOY hunting is coming to an end. Sad, but the writing is on the wall.


Thank you...thank you very much
Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: stxranchman] #5508855 12/30/14 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted By: stxranchman
If it were me I'd hunt the place closer to home since I would spend more time there and hunt it more often. You will be able to work on improving the resource over time with it closer to you. It would also allow you to enjoy it much more with the family. Family time spent outdoors is much more important today than you will realize now. In the future you will understand that statement much more than today.


x2 Athens can be great hunting if managed correctly. up


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Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: RAS] #5508863 12/30/14 08:42 PM
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Fences will change deer travel patterns no doubt, and could affect a property for a couple seasons but not longer than that the deer will adapt to the change. They will not let a resource of cover, food and water go to waste. As long as your acreage continues to provide the resource they will adapt and use it.


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Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: Jimbo] #5510095 12/31/14 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted By: Jimbo
If there are deer there in Mason to hunt, believe me, the kids won't care about size or numbers.
I would keep hunting the area and taking the kids. They will remember the good times being out in the woods just like you did.
Nothing wrong with moving on to new land either, and if it's close by that means you can get out there more often and spend more time.
Sounds like a win, win either way!


Great advice here....and by the way, it sounds like your boys are blessed to have a great dad!

Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: crooked horn] #5510120 12/31/14 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted By: crooked horn
I hunt my own property in north central Texas. Due to its odd shape, and the fact that it is bisected by a county road, I have TEN different places that border me. But, I basically only have one property to my west, and one to my east. About 10 years ago the place to my west was high fenced, for 3-4 years after that, there was a huge reduction in deer movement on my property, then they "adapted". Two years ago the place to my east was also high fenced. Now my 300 plus acres is practically devoid of deer. With all of the other 30-60 acre places around me, I feel that my chance for deer recruitment has taken a HUGE hit. One of the few neighbors that I speak to (different story altogether) had seen ONE DOE all season by the end of November. If I had the land and resources to put up a high fence I would do so in a second, but please dont try and tell me they dont negatively effect the properties around them.


Without question HF effects deer movement, frankly I'm not a fan of HF but, the problem is the "if it's brown it's down mentality". When you have two neighbors high fence, you've already mentioned the lack of discipline by other neighbors, it just doesn't take long for a place to be shot out. It kinda reminds me of another post on here where a guy said there were 6 hunters of 68 acres. Really? Some people just don't have a clue and simply don't care....they shoot everything they see and then move on leaving the mess for others to clean up.

Re: Open Range Hunting Questions [Re: Deerhunter61] #5510323 12/31/14 03:53 PM
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To the op, just a curiosity....if the hunting was so good and you had just shot your best buck why did you get off the lease?

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