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2010 hunting season expected to be strong

By ALLISON MILES
Nov. 16, 2010 at 5:16 a.m.

Rick Haeber, with Eller's Hunting Post, takes a phone call asking about ammo supplies as deer season swings into full force.

What does the average hunter look like? Mainly, they are ...

About 40 years old

Male

Married

Earning about $66,316 a year

Source: "2006 Economic Benefits of

Hunting, Fishing and Wildlife Watching in Texas," by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

How many people hunt in Texas? In 2006 ...

The state saw 1.1 million hunters, who hunted a total of about 14 million days.

978,697 hunters were state residents.

122,589 hunters were non-residents.

Source: "2006 Economic Benefits of

Hunting, Fishing and Wildlife Watching in Texas," by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Texas' deer hunting season might have just gotten its start Nov. 6, but Rick Haeber has already made his way out there, looking to bag a big one.

"I didn't get anything," he said, laughing. "But my dad did. And he's turning 93 in February."

People predict 2010 will be a strong hunting season.

The economic downturn has not had an impact on hunting, said Steve Lightfoot, spokesman with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. In fact, hunting license sales have increased this year.

"You could maybe contribute that to good weather and hunting conditions, but we'll take it," he said. "A 2.5 percent increase, when you sell upward of 1 million licenses, is pretty substantial."

The deer population is excellent statewide, Lightfoot said, explaining there are more deer in the fields and they're going into the season in better shape than usual, with fat on them.

This year 2010 will be a decent season, but some areas will suffer due to the number of acorns on the ground, said Darrell Hester, who owns Victoria All-Sports Center.

"This year it's a bumper crop of acorns," he said. "Where I live in Mission Valley, I hear them hit the metal roof all night long."

Deer eat them instead of the deer corn, Hester said, which means a more difficult time for hunters. Once the acorns are gone, however, it should be smooth sailing.

Hunting season began drawing business in to Victoria All-Sports Center several weeks ago, said Mark Evans, a store employee.

Ammunition, deer corn and blinds are major sellers, he said, explaining that several rifles - though not as many as they would like - have also sold.

"Every day's been busy," Evans said. "We're happy right now."

Evans urged hunters who haven't already purchased ammunition, however, to do so soon. Some ammunition is in short supply and might be difficult to find later into the season.

As for Haeber, he's witnessed the season from two separate vantage points. The hunter also works at Eller's Hunting Post, where he keeps busy behind the counter.

"It's a pretty booming little business," he said. "We get busy every year."

The sales staff typically knows which types of ammunition and supplies customers need and plan ahead, he said. If they do run out of something, they send shoppers to other retailers in town.

He said he isn't worried about the industry's future, either.

The number of hunters continues to grow and the types of items on sale reflect that, Haeber said. Pink rifles for little girls now line some store shelves, for example.

All in all, regardless of conditions, many Texans will continue to hunt, no matter what, Lightfoot said. In the Lone Star State, the pastime is as much a cultural thing as it is sport.

"You've got to be able to decompress somehow," he said. "Hunting is an opportunity to reconnect with nature, kind of get regenerated."

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