Each year, hunters of all ages take on approximately 11,000 hunting acres at Red River Army Depot attempting to harvest deer, buck or doe.
One of the largest successes during the season was the removal of 600 feral hogs on the depot which has been ongoing since 2019.
"For the first time in several years, we are seeing more deer tracks than hog tracks," says Dennis Kuykendall, RRAD Natural Resources Manager. "Though we trap hogs year around, we did more over the last two years, and it seems to have had a positive effect on the deer."
In addition to implementing the plan to remove the hogs, the depot’s resource managers are also working to improve the age structure of the deer herd. While it isn’t illegal to harvest a young deer on the depot, hunters are encouraged to think twice before pulling the trigger and let the young ones walk.
Antler restrictions such as 13” or greater inside spread, 5-points on one side and no harvesting of spikes are also in place to help prevent the taking of young deer. The 2021 season also introduced a bag limit of one deer, buck or doe.
Kuykendall said with the new guidance in place, hunters seemed to be more selective.
Hunters were also given the opportunity to earn an extra deer tag if they could harvest two hogs or two predators.
The new changes didn't stop the success of the hunters at the depot.
The depot’s 2021 hunting season produced eight-year-old Ryan Ward. Ward, who was hunting with his dad Josh, bagged his largest buck to date and ended the season with the largest buck taken on the depot for 2021. The heavy 10-point deer was taken near Elliott Lake.
Ward wasn’t the only youngster this season to take a deer. In fact, nearly 18% of the deer harvested on the depot in 2021 were taken by hunters under the age of 16. Thirty percent of the deer taken this year were by youth, veteran/active duty and even a few first deer!
“This was an unexpected statistic for a season that had ‘added’ restrictions in attempt to keep harvest numbers to a minimum while not significantly sacrificing revenue,” Kuykendall said.
Revenue for the season only decreased by approximately 10% from the previous season despite the added restrictions.
At $60 for an adult permit and $15 for a youth permit, eligible hunters have 135 hunt areas of their choice. Hunters do not use their state issued tags for deer harvested on RRAD, instead a Managed Lands Deer Program permit is used to tag the deer.
Revenues from permit sales go back into the program to fund habitat improvements, traps and bait for feral hog control and wildlife survey supplies.