Texas Deer Population:  A rough estimate of 5 million deer in 2022, down from a formal estimate of about 5.6 million deer in 2021 with 5.4 million whitetails and about 191,000 mule deer.  Down slightly from about 5.65 million in 2020 with 5.44 million whitetails.  Drought in 2022, but good rainfall in summer of 2021, 2019, and 2018 supported deer populations.   An estimated 5.8 million deer in 2019 with 5.6 million whitetails and about 200,000 mule deer.  Down from about 6 million deer in 2017.  The year 2000 estimated deer population was 3.9 million.   The 2023 Deer Population Forecast

Texas Deer News

Pregnant deer gives birth on impact from car; twin fawns survive May 15, 2024 Texas, WGN-TV

... dash camera captured the Friday collision.  “You can actually see that I had one that went right in between my two front tires and I kind of centered over the second fawn to come out,” ... We do have a little trauma ...

Public Comment Sought on Proposed Regulation Changes to Disease Detection, Response Rules in Deer Breeding Facilities

May 10, 2024 Texas Parks and Wildlife News

... The proposed amendment concerning CWD testing would require the euthanization and post-mortem testing of any breeder deer confirmed positive for CWD via ante-mortem testing...

Chronic wasting disease detected in Edwards County deer breeding facility April 25, 2024 Texas Parks and Wildlife News

... A pair of two-year-old does tested positive using antemortem testing conducted to meet CWD surveillance requirements for deer ... Proactive removal of deer penned with the positive deer and additional testing resulted in three subsequent CWD detections...

Warm-season food plots vital for deer health April 17, 2024 Texas, Marshall News Messenger

... To maximize the effectiveness of warm-season food plots, a variety of forage types are recommended. Deer vetch, cowpeas, alyceclover, lablab and soybeans are all excellent choices. These forages not only provide essential nutrients but also contribute to soil health and overall habitat improvement...

Chronic Wasting Disease detected in Real County deer breeding facility April 8, 2024 Texas, Yahoo

...  two cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a Real County deer breeding facility, marking the first detections in the county... a 10-year-old and a 6.5-year-old female white-tailed deer tested positive ..,

Evaluation of drone surveys for ungulates in southwestern rangelands - Wildlife Society Bulletin, 2024

...  in South Texas, USA, on sites with varying degrees of woody cover and terrain... . Drone‐based population estimates were comparable

with estimates generated from corrected helicopter, spotlight, and trail‐camera surveys. Overall, diurnal drone surveys can generate population estimates for large ungulates on southwestern rangelands after accounting for visibility bias, but may be limited by terrain and thermal conditions.

Hunting a big deer is one thing, but how will we know when we've gone too far?  March 31, 2024 Texas, MSN

... We don’t need 2-year-old bucks that will score more than 200 Boone and Crockett inches. It doesn’t occur in nature, so why pursue it? ...

Estimating deer ratios in helicopter surveys March 27, 2024 Texas, Lone Star Outdoor News

... At the recent Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute Deer Research Meeting, Dr. Aaron Foley presented the results of a scientific investigation on the accuracy of helicopter surveys to capture ratio data for deer herds. The examination found estimates of buck:doe and doe:fawn ratios were accurate for deer management, but not as reliable for buck:mature buck ratios...

New CWD zones prompts calls for change February 20, 2024 Texas Farm Bureau

... New surveillance zones were approved for Kimble, Medina and Cherokee counties after cases of the neurological deer disease were discovered in deer breeding facilities in those counties.  A new surveillance and containment zone were implemented in Coleman County after a free-ranging, hunter-harvested buck tested positive for CWD in late 2023...

The State of Chronic Wasting Disease in U.S. Deer January 29, 2024  AllOutdoor.com

... Dr. Chris Seabury, a genetics professor at Texas’ A&M School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, believes Chronic Wasting Disease can be contained by breeding deer that have natural, partial immunity to infection...

Texas has a feral hog problem. Can we fix it? January 27, 2024 Texas, NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

... “Pigs compete with native wildlife for forage,” Mike Bodenchuk, former state director of the Texas Wildlife Services Program, said. “They alter habitats, they foul the water sources. They predate on a lot of wildlife ... even fawns from deer can fall victim to feral hogs.” ...

Did Texas Parks and Wildlife euthanize a whole herd of deer by mistake? January 26, 2024 Texas Standard

... “To this point, all 600 and some samples that we’ve submitted … to the National Veterinary lab there in Iowa for confirmation had been confirmed. So it’s an extremely rare occurrence for us not to receive confirmation,” said John Silovsky, wildlife division director for TPWD...

National laboratory does not confirm Chronic Wasting Disease at Kerr Wildlife Management Area Research Facility January 19, 2024 Texas, Yahoo

... Although no confirmed detections were obtained from regulatory tests on any deer, the second round of RT-QuIC environmental evaluations at the facility did detect the presence of prions in some environmental samples.  Out of an abundance of caution, TPWD staff euthanized all deer in the research facility prior to receiving confirmation ..,

Looking Ahead: Hunters should start now to help deer for next season January 11, 2024 Texas, Tyler Morning Telegraph

... “Corn is simply used as an attractant and provides little nutritional value for deer...the addition of supplemental feed or cottonseed is still recommended,”  [Blaise Korzekwa, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s white-tailed deer program leader.]  By supplemental feed he is referring to protein pellets ... 

Deadly Deer Disease Spreads In Texas, With No Easy Explanation January 8, 2024 Texas, HuffPost

...The infection at the Kerr research facility capped off a record year of CWD spread in Texas by raising the same question that has confounded officials since the case count started climbing in 2021: How does the disease keep working its way into new sites, when infected deer aren’t the ones spreading it? ...

Recent survey shows whitetail hunting, supporting landowners generate $9.6 billion annually January 6, 2024 Texas, The Lufkin Daily News

...The survey was carried out jointly in 2022-23 by the Texas A&M University Department of Rangeland, Wildlife and Fisheries Management and the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute.  Released in December 2023, the second part of the three-part survey shows Texas deer hunting and the landowners who support it account for a $9.6 billion boost to the Texas economy each year... [the survey]

Texas Parks and Wildlife addresses increase in Chronic Wasting Disease among state deer population January 4, 2024 KVII

... First detected in Texas in 2012, CWD has since manifested in 624 documented cases statewide, with 181 cases reported in 2023 alone...  the state has reported an over 25% increase in positive cases, with a notable 73% of cases originating from high-fenced areas..,

Officials respond to questions about chronic wasting disease detection December 23, 2023 Texas, Jacksonville Progress

... TPWD says more than 600 CWD positives have been confirmed in Texas since the initial discovery, and that most of the positives are tied to whitetail breeding facilities and release sites.  TPWD Big Game program leader Alan Cain says CWD has been documented in 28 Texas breeding facilities...

Chronic Wasting Disease Detected in Free-Range Coleman County Deer Dec. 8, 2023 Texas, TPWD News

...  the first detection in the county.  A two-year-old whitetail buck harvested by a hunter on a low-fenced property tested positive through sampling conducted voluntarily to assist with the state’s CWD surveillance..,

Texas fisherman finds buck swimming in Corpus Christi bay December 5, 2023  Laredo Morning Times

... about a mile from shore doggy-paddling his four little hooves off. He said they followed him and were able to turn him around to get him back to the shoreline...

Chronic Wasting Disease Detected at Kerr Wildlife Management Area Captive Deer Research Facility December 1, 2023 Texas Parks and Wildlife News

... a suspect-positive case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a 14-month-old captive male white-tailed deer at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area (WMA) research facility... Out of an abundance of caution, TPWD staff euthanized all deer in the research facility and collected post-mortem samples, which resulted in no additional detections... “TPWD staff are disappointed to abruptly end nearly 50 years of white-tailed deer research that has significantly influenced deer management in Texas ..,

Chronic Wasting Disease Detected in Cherokee County Deer Breeding Facility November 17, 2023 Texas Parks and Wildlife News

... confirmation of a case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Cherokee County, marking the first detection in a deer breeding facility in the county.  A four-year-old buck tested positive using postmortem testing conducted to meet annual CWD surveillance requirements for the facility..,

Texas Parks and Wildlife considering new ways to manage chronic wasting disease November 15, 2023 Beaumont Enterprise

... Cain says the majority of the public commenters (65%), including many of the 50-plus people who signed up to address the commission in person, spoke in opposition to the proposal package..,

Dallas resident charged for illegally selling 'domesticated' deer on Craigslist November 15, 2023 Texas, news4sanantonio

... The Texas Game Wardens saw that the photo within the Craigslist ad had the deer and the contact information of the seller... After officials filed charges against the sellers, the Wardens seized the deer and transported the animal to a licensed rehabilitator...

Lost and found: Hunters rely on dogs to find wounded deer November 6, 2023 Texas, The Beaumont Enterprise

... The practice of using up to two unleashed dogs to track wounded deer has been legal in much of the state for decades, but was only recently made legal in most of eastern Texas. The exceptions are Jasper, Newton, Sabine, and San Augustine counties, where handlers are still required to keep tracking dogs on a leash...

Texas Parks and Wildlife opens more mandatory CWD check stations as deer season begins October 28, 2023, Texas Public Radio

...There are cases of both free ranging deer and captive deer facilities. The majority of them at this time are around captive deer facilities... Ben Olsen, a wildlife health specialist in Texas Parks and Wildlife Big game program..,

Texas Deer Population Forecasted to Rebound from Drought Conditions Oct. 27, 2023 TPWD News

... Much of the state received drought-quenching rain in the spring, which allowed for excellent habitat growth during the initial part of the growing season. Spring forb (weeds and flowering plants) production, which is a critical component of a deer’s diet coming out of winter, was abundant and offered essential nutrients to growing bucks, lactating does and new fawns. Additionally, the improved habitat conditions earlier this year helped keep fawns healthy ...

Chronic Wasting Disease Detected in Medina County Deer Breeding Facility - TPWD October 24, 2023 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) - Texas.gov

... The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) received confirmation of a case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Medina County, marking the fifth detection since 2015 in a deer-breeding facility in the county.  A one-year-old buck tested positive through an antemortem (live-animal) test conducted to meet annual CWD surveillance requirements for the facility...

Good and Bad: Exotics add hunting value, but can disrupt whitetail management October 19, 2023 Texas, tylerpaper.com

... Axis were first imported into Texas for their meat in the 1930s. Originally from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka ... Even though TPWD does not count exotics, it is believed there are some counties where axis numbers might equal white-tailed deer.  “The axis population is almost as large as the whitetail population in Kimball County...

Pineywoods study shows deer are homebodies for the most part October 5, 2023 Texas, Tyler Morning Telegraph

... In the Pineywoods studymost of the bucks on private property had a home range of about 600 acres...  major highways, and in this case U.S. 59, were a major barrier that the deer were hesitant to cross. The same was not true for smaller roads like Farm to Markets and county roads, but that created a different issue.  “We had a lot killed on the road. Maybe a quarter of them,” ...

Looking Good: Statewide Outlook Above Average For Upcoming Texas Deer Season September 29, 2023 Tyler Morning Telegraph

... With a statewide herd estimated at 3- to 4-million animals, Texas deer numbers remain steady. Korzekwa said it goes back to the species’ adaptability to weather swings and things like urban sprawl and different looks in landscape caused by agricultural practice changes. [We have contacted the paper to check on this poulation estimate]

Contemporary hybridization between female mule deer and male white-tailed deer in west Texas differs from the hypothesized sex mating patterns recovered from ancient hybridization events  September, 2023 Canadian Journal of Zoology

...  Eight out of 130 free-ranging individuals from the Panhandle and Trans-Pecos regions of Texas were determined to possess the mitochondrial haplotype of mule deer (O. hemionus Rafinesque, 1817) and the paternal haplotype of white-tailed deer (O. virginianus Rafinesque, 1832). Results indicated that hybridization between deer species in Texas (6.15%) was more broadly distributed than previously reported...

Check out these Texas hunting season predictions before heading out  September 23, 2023 Beaumont Enterprise

... Last year ... White-tailed deer had a poor fawning season due to the drought. There were limited supplies of fawning cover, forage and water that decreased the overall number of deer on the landscape... With favorable precipitation and habitat conditions this year, the deer are health ..,

Chronic Wasting Disease Detected in Kimble County Deer Breeding Facility September 13, 2023 Texas Parks and Wildlife

... a 6-year-old doe at a breeding facility in Kimble County tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease...This is the second time the disease was detected at a deer-breeding facility in the county, TPWD states..,

McLennan County judge blocks TPWD order requiring breeders to kill 29 deer September 7, 2023 Texas, KWTX

... “trace deer” that tested positive for Chronic Waste Disease at another facility were traced to their facility... The breeders contend the 29 traced deer at their facilities are being sequestered from the other deer at their operations...

Chronic wasting disease, regulations impact Texas deer breeders September 7, 2023 Texas Farm Bureau

... Just two years ago, in September 2021, there were 980 deer breeders in Texas. Now, due to a number of factors, including the cost of testing herds for CWD and mandatory depopulation after CWD is found in a facility, there are only 683 breeders left in the state...

Seasons Of Change: Hunting Seasons Have Been A Part of Texas Hunting Since 1861 August 31, 2023 Texas, Tyler Morning Telegraph

... Concerns over market hunting led to a seven-month deer season in 1881. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, white-tailed deer numbers were depleted in Texas in the 1800s by commercial meat and hide hunters, along with a lack of knowledge of deer habitat. It was estimated that between 1844 and 1853 more about 75,000 deer hides were shipped from one location..,

Texas Rancher Wages War Against Deer Euthanasia As Disease Spreads August 26, 2023 HuffPost

... The state of Texas wants to kill all of the roughly 500 captive deer at RW Trophy Ranch to contain the spread of chronic wasting disease, or CWD, a contagious brain disorder that wildlife officials widely view as the single greatest threat to the nation’s deer herds.  “It breaks my freaking heart,” Williams said, choking back tears as she recalled nursing a struggling fawn named Curly ...

Whitetail outlook August 19, 2023 Texas, The Daily Sentinel

... Texas deer hunters shot about 681,000 deer last year compared to 828,000 the season year before ... The reason for the decrease? ... Plus, deer movements were stifled by an early fall green up and one of the best acorn crops in years... there are plenty of fawns on the ground... In South Texas, land managers have reported production rates as high as 50 percent..,

Reward offered for information on fatal blowdart attack on white-tailed deer in Bandera August 16, 2023 Texas, WOAI

... the 6" razor tip blowgun dart punctured and penetrated the buck's chest piercing the right lung resulting in its death... a reward of up to $1,000 ...

Emergency rules adopted for movement of breeder deer July 25, 2023 Texas, Yahoo

... "Since 2021, we have seen an increase in CWD detections from breeder deer at an unprecedented rate," said John Silovsky, Wildlife Division Director for TPWD... The change requires all breeder deer to be ante-mortem (live-animal) tested for CWD ... before transferring to another deer breeding facility or release site...

Antlers, fawn crops looking good for upcoming deer season July 20, 2023 Texas, Lone Star Outdoor News

... Cain said range conditions were exceptional during the spring and even into the beginning of the summer due to ample

precipitation across much of the state. Bucks were able to recover from the rut, while does were able to take advantage of premium habitat and pack on fat reserves for fawning and lactation, and fawns were treated with cover and shade to protect them from the summertime heat...

Texas Deer News and Information Archive by TopicPopulation and Management, Deer in the News, Disease, Suburban

Texas Deer:    A rough deer population estimate of 5 million or slightly above after drought in 2022 moderated deer numbers with the deer hunt down by 17.8% from 2021. Lower deer populations into 2023, but good weather conditions in 2023 supporting deer.  The 2023 Population Forecast.

The graph below shows the estimated population from 1999 to 2021 using recent data from Texas Parks and Wildlife.  No official estimate for 2022.

The mule deer population declined from 191,000 in 2021 to 183,257 in 2022.  Not included in the count is a growing number of Axis deer and other exotics.  A 2023 survey estimated deer hunting generates $9.8 billion in the Texas economy.

The state estimated the whitetail population to be down slightly in 2021 at 5.4 million.  There were also an estimated 191,000 mule deer in 2021 bringing the total deer population to about 5.6 million.  Some deer died during the cold snap of February, 2021, many of the around 125,000 Axis deer (not included in the population estimates), but heavy spring rains dramatically improved habitat in parts of the state.  Deer hunters had a 62 percent success rate in 2021. There were about 950 deer ranches in 2021, but fell to 868 with the decline attributed to the cost of chronic wasting disease prevention.

The state estimated about 5.44 million whitetail deer in 2020 with about 209,000 mule deer bringing the population to 5.65 million.  Texas also has many deer in hunting ranches.   About 15,000 wild Axis deer, most Axis deer are in hunting ranches.

Texas Parks and Wildlife revised its population survey method resulting in an increase in the original estimates for populations in 2017 and 2018.  Two years of good rain going into 2017 also increased the population, as reflected in the increased deer kill illustrated in the graph below.  The significant 2016 increase in the deer hunt numbers illustrated in the chart below suggests the population indicates there was a population increase in 2016 rather than 2017.  Source:  Texas Parks and Wildlife

As the chart below shows, the Texas White-tailed deer population had been roughly stable from about 1986 to 2016.  Data at the bottom of this column.

A state estimate of 5.5 million deer with 5.3 million whitetails in 2019 as a result of good rainfall and ample forage.  A rough estimate of about 200,000 mule deer in 2019, many in the Trans-Pecos, a population generally in decline. Over 700,000 hunters.  A 2019 average of about one deer per 6 to 7 acres.  The Cross Timbers region had about 600,000 deer or 56 deer per 1,000 acres.  Post Oak Savannah has about 400,000, 35 per 1,000 acres.  PIneywoods has a much lower estimated deer population, about 260,000 deer.  The state average is about 40 deer per 1,000 acres, about 26 per square mile.  Texas maintains good deer demographics, with over 60 percent of bucks killed 3.5 years or older.  Before antler restrictions, this group was only 30-35 percent of the harvest.  

A preliminary estimate of nearly 4.6 million whitetails in 2018 and nearly 300,000 mule deer following good rainfall in September and abundant food, although summer drought in some areas reduced populations.   In 2018 TPWD estimated for eastern Texas 220,000 and 284,000 over the last five years, about 2.6 million in Edward's PlateauGood rainfall for 2018 in south Texas increased fawn survival and provided good forage for deer in much of the state in the fall, with deer less likely to come to corn feeders.  

A preliminary estimate of 4.3 million whitetail deer in 2017 with about 230,000 mule deer.  A dry summer following two years of widespread consistent rain and good habitat conditions.  Wild pigs continue to compete with deer for food, killing fawns, and reducing populations.  The deer genome was sequenced at Baylor College and made public in 2017.  About 6,000 Axis deer in the wild who have escaped from hunting ranches.  

A total deer population estimated at 4.2 million in 2016, up from about 4 million in 2015 and  3.95 million deer in 2014, as result of significant rainfall.  The 2016 spring and summer was one of the wettest in decades.  Increased hunting recommended for 2016 in the western Panhandle and Post Oak Savannah region.  Prices for deer hunts plummeted in 2016, thought to be a result of a downturn in the oil industry who send executives and clients on corporate hunts.  

About 160,000 deer raised by 1,300 deer breeders in 2016. About 700,000 deer hunters.  About 110,000 deer in 1265 captive breeding farms in 2016, up from 946 farms in 2006.  The Hill Country had the highest deer population in 2016, an estimated 2.2 million deer, or 118 deer per 1,000 acres, 76 per square mile. 

For 2015 the mule deer population is estimated at 209,732.  A population estimate of 3.95 deer in 2015 about the same in 2014 with an estimate of 3.95 million whitetails, the highest whitetail population since 2005.  South Texas had good rains and a mild summer in 2014 and 2015 with ample food that has increased fawn production.   About 6,000 axis deer roaming the state in 2014, escaped from captivity.   Good weather in spring 2014 improved fawn survival and deer health. Generally good fawn recruitment, over 45 percent, in 2007, 2010, 2012, and 2013.    A hunting success rate of about 70 percent in 2013.  Antler restrictions were in place for 117 counties requiring at least a 13 inch inside spread.  An estimated $1.5 billion annually related to Texas deer hunts, $2.2 billion including deer breeding and tourism according to a Texas A&M study.  

 An estimated 3.8 million white-tail deer in 2013 before deer hunting seasons, 39 deer per 1,000 acres on average.  About 3.7 million in 2012, but one estimate of 3.3 million in 2012 with some recovery from the 2011 drought.  Little fawn  in 2011 as a result of the severe drought, almost as low in 2008-2009.   No fawn production in the panhandle in 2011 and 2012.   An estimate of 500,000 mule deer in 2011, mostly in the Trans-Pecos

The deer population trended upward from 2004 to 2010 with the white-tail population estimate of 3.46 million, a high point in 2005.  Good fawn production in 2007In 2010, Texas breeders had 152,000 breeder deer housed in 1,200 permitted facilities.  An estimate of four million deer in 2004

History    Concerns over market hunting led to a seven-month deer season in 1881.  An estimated 232,000 deer in 1938.  Over hunting and drought into the 1940s limited the mule deer population to a few counties.  Screwworms kept the population down in the 1950's and 60's with the population in 1955 estimated at about 500,000.  Screwworms were controlled by release of sterile males.  A severe drought in the 1950s killed about 100,000 deer in the Hill Country.  About two million deer in 1961 and 2.25 million in 1965.  The 1989 estimated population:  3.5 million.  


Axis deer were Introduced in 1932 from southern India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.  About 15,000 wild Axis deer in 2018.  In 2022 a study was planned to evaluate the long-term impacts of Axis deer.

Chronic Wasting Disease ( was first detected in far West Texas, the Trans-Pecos,  during the summer of 2012 in the remote far western reaches of El Paso and Hudspeth counties near the border with New Mexico.  Years earlier in a effort to increase populations, mule deer were transported into New Mexico from norther Colorado -- ground zero for Chronic Wasting.  In 2015, a captive deer tested positive in a captive breeding ranch southwest of San Antonio in Medina county.   In 2017 the first wild white-tailed deer and elk tested positive.  In 2018 the first wild white-tail in the panhandle, 49 confirmed cases statewide.  More in 2019.  

For 2020-21, 16 positive cases from the hunting season and more from breeding farms in 2021.  Pre-hunt in 2021 the CWD cases to date rosemto 261.   Number of deer exposed by county in 2021.  One rancher refuses to kill his infected herd in 2022.  As of July 2022, 371 captive or free-ranging cervids — including white-tailed deer, mule deer, red deer and elk — in 14 Texas counties have tested positive for CWD.  

New cases at breeding farms in 2023.  The cost and risk of CWD has contributed to a decline in the number of deer breeding facilities from 980 in September 2021, to 683 in September, 2023 with most cases around captive breeding facilities.  By the end of 2023, there were a total of 624 documented cases of CWD with 181 in 2023 and 73% of total cases found in fenced areas.  More in 2024.

Elk  "Large herds were reported in the 1600s ... but with settlers came unregulated hunting and loss of habitat the elks’ range shrunk to the Guadalupe Mountains in West Texas ... The last remaining animals were gone by the late 1800s" to early 1900s, previously found in the Trans-Pecos and western Panhandle.   In the late 1920's, 40 elk were transported from South Dakota and released into the Guadalupe Mountains.  Managed as livestock by the Texas Animal Health Commission.

Mountain Lions are occasionally sighted in Texas.

Wild Hogs, about 2.6 million in 2021.

Useful links:

 - Chonic Wasting Disease Management in Texas  - CWD Containment Zone [PDF]

- Texas Deer Association    

- Texas Parks and Wildlife  

Source of Data Below:  Texas Parks and Wildlife

Statewide Historic Deer Populations

Mule Deer Populations in the Trans Pecos

Source:  Texas Parks and Wildlife