Ranking the Toughest Deer Hunting: No. 4 – The Southwest

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

Everyone likes to talk about how hard their bucks are to hunt. But are they really? We’re taking a look at each region of the country, and ranking how difficult they really are

Savage Outdoors and The One co-host Mike Stroff poses behind a wide Texas buck. (Mike Stroff photo)

All you have to do is shake a bag of shelled corn and all the Texas Booners come running in with tails wagging, right? Rattling works so well, it’s almost like cheating. At least, that’s what I’ve been told about deer hunting in the Southwest.

Don’t get mad and kick me with your spurs, Bro. If you need to cry, just pull that egregiously big cowboy hat brim down a little lower and let the rain fall. Then go freshen up, because we’re ranking the deer hunting in each region of the country from easiest to toughest, and it just so happens the Southwest is pretty much cake, coming in at No. 4 behind the Midwest.

Ah, we kid and poke fun. But we have a good time with it. 

Realtree 365 show host Mike Stroff has been deer hunting for 31 years, and guiding hunters since 2001. He’s hunted a total of 12 states during that time, and Texas and Oklahoma are his two favorites. He says there’s no richer hunting tradition than what’s found in Texas. “Hunting is part of the culture here. Everybody does it,” he says. “You can even buy deer corn at the grocery store. I don’t know of anywhere else you can do that.”

Certain tactics are especially potent in this region. Stroff says water is critical. The region has droughts that sometimes last a couple years. “I’ve never hunted anywhere else where you could hunt over a water hole and see every deer on the ranch within a day or two,” Stroff said. “Being able to create water sources is huge. If I can get deer to hit water troughs and water lines that I run, I can really localize them. I can almost predict where they’re going to be, especially on a hot afternoon.”

“These deer are on almost a 100% browse diet,” Stroff continues. “There are few crops. A lot of the times, the grass is dried up or burned out, so there isn’t much of that for them. So, they have to browse on this brush. Baiting with corn and protein feed is our food plot,” Stroff says. He argues it’s the only way to draw deer out of the thick brush and into the open for a shot.

Most gun hunters get elevated to help see down into the brush. Bowhunters typically hunt from ground blinds. “Deer get used to them,” Stroff says. “They don’t look at it any differently than the feeder because it’s always there. Those black holes (windows) can spook them, though, so leave those open at all times. They eventually get used to those, too.”

All said, there is another way to pull deer within sight and range. “You have a two-week rattling window where there is no other place in the country like it,” Stroff says. “Our buck-to-doe ratios are typically pretty tight down here (around 2:1). So, if they want to breed, they have to fight. When there’s an estrous doe, every buck wants her, but they have to work for it.”

Five guys from different states, regions and walks of life talk about deer hunting where they call home. (Ed Anderson illustration)

Make sure you follow up on the other regions. We have plenty of things left to discuss. Don’t miss out on the fun.

Ranking the Toughest Deer Hunting: No. 5 – The Midwest

Ranking the Toughest Deer Hunting: No. 4 – The Southwest

Ranking the Toughest Deer Hunting: No. 3 – The Northwest

Ranking the Toughest Deer Hunting: No. 2 – The Northeast

Ranking the Toughest Deer Hunting: No. 1 – The Southeast

Check out more stories, videos and educational how-to's on deer hunting.

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