For the first time in history, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has scheduled an extended deer hunting season that will allow all legally licensed McCulloch County hunters to harvest spikes and antlerless white-tailed deer up until January 21. The regular deer hunting season ends this Sunday, Jan. 7. Beginning Monday, Jan. 8, hunters and landowners may harvest does and antlerless deer by normal legal methods of hunting. According to Chris Leifeste, owner of Outdoor Supply, there has been substantial amounts of confusion by hunters this year as to what permits or license tags are required to harvest animals during the extended season. “All hunters must have a regular hunting license and appropriate tag to harvest any deer during either the regular season or the extended season,” said McCulloch County Game Warden Tim Moorman. “Once their bag limit of five has been reached, that is it.” The limit for McCulloch County is five deer of which no more than two may be bucks. However, hunters hunting on land already under the state managed land program may purchase up to five bonus tags for their license. And according to Moorman, the bonus tags are only allowed to be used in conjunction with managed land program permits issued by the state and both tags must be attached to each animal. The bonus tags are not to be confused with antlerless deer control permits that are issued to some managed lands that allow only specified individuals to harvest antlerless deer. Under this particular program, predetermined shooters are issued tags and permission to harvest a specified quantity of antlerless deer for population and herd control. The extended season is applicable only in select counties of the Edwards Plateau and South Texas region. McCulloch, Mason, Menard, Llano, Gillespie, Burnet and San Saba counties are all included in the extended season. Many counties north and west of McCulloch are not included in the season including Concho and Brown counties. Each county has individual regulations on total deer harvest, and the rules and regulations of each county should be confirmed in the TPWD hunting handbook available where sporting goods are sold. For hunters and landowners headed out to thin their deer population, a word of caution about picking out old does to cull from the herd. Recent reports and past trends show that bucks in the area may already be shedding antlers. One antler shed found last week by Brady resident Johnny Lewis came from a mature 10-point buck. The exact age and size of the buck could not be determined from the freshly shed antler, but this particular buck was one that would cause most deer hunters to take a second look. Boasting one-half of a typical 10-point rack, the antler was found lying on the ground on an area ranch. The antler showed signs of being freshly dropped with little or no weathering, and dead skin and tissue were still evident at the base of the antler where it had previously been connected to the skull. According to wildlife biologists, bucks shedding antlers this early in the year is not an uncommon occurrence. Studies show if the antlers are coming from younger bucks, that could be an indicator that there is a problem with the overall quality of the herd. If antler sheds this early in the year appear to be isolated incidences limited to mature bucks, age and individual condition of that animal are probably the main determining factors. Landowners who will allow hunters to harvest antlerless deer need to caution them to be sure that the animal in question is a doe and not a buck that may have already shed its antlers. Removing a quality mature buck from the herd simply by mistake could prove to be a costly error.