Deer are feeling the heat under drought conditions
Joe Evridge, who operates the Heart of Texas Trophy Whitetail deer ranch with his brother Grant near Brady, says the consecutive days of 100-plus temperatures in June have caused about a 25 percent loss of this year's fawn crop.
He said that the heat is hard on the does and that they can't carry the fawns to full term, or else the newborn fawns can't cope with the hot sun.
"We have more than 350 deer, which we feed in 22 pens equipped with plenty of water and shade, and that helps protect them from so much of the heat and predators," Evridge told me.
On my visit to the ranch, a 2-year-old trophy buck walked right up to us and licked our hands. Used for breeding, the friendly buck is carrying a large rack encased in velvet. Last year, the buck grew antlers 38 inches wide with 66 points, Evridge said.
Evridge has spent more than 20 years as a wildlife consultant and decided seven years ago to set up his own deer breeding program.
"I have always liked the whitetail deer. They are such beautiful and majestic animals," he said.
Recent scattered thundershowers failed to leave much rain across McCulloch County. Clay Jones, a banker and rancher, said 0.30 inches of rain fell on the Jones ranch north of Brady. "But three miles away, from 2.5 to 3 inches fell," he said.
"Most of the stock water tanks have either dropped to very low levels or gone completely dry because of the drought," Clay Jones said.
That's the situation in every direction I've driven in the past several weeks.