The Managed Lands Deer Permit (MDP) Program offered by TPWD has been around almost two decades and has experienced some changes this year. Land owners that have participated in the past as well as those interested in enrolling for the 2017-18 deer hunting season must register online before the deadline.
The MLDP program offers two different options starting this year, the Conservation Option (CO) and the Harvest Option (HO). Both offer landowners/hunters the ability to receive deer tags for the property that they own or hunt. The program is intended to help with deer management and/or hunting, but the two options are different in terms of how can help.
Conservation Option Vs. Harvest Option
After reading guidelines for the voluntary program, it appears that the Conservation Option offers the most opportunity for a property owner to effectively manage the deer found on a property. However, it does require that the landowner perform 3 “department-approved habitat management practices each year.”
It also requires that properties participating in CO perform deer surveys each year. For those interested in managing the deer found on their property this seems like stuff you will already be doing. The deadline for signup in August 1.
The HO is different. It does not require any management practices on the participating property and it does not required that annual deer surveys be performed. Deer permits are issued using some formula based on the property. TPWD has developed a HO Tag Estimator that determines how many tags a particular property will get. Here is a good article discussing how to use the MLDP tag estimator for the upcoming deer season. The deadline for HO signup is also August 1.
When a person goes to register a property for MLDP enrollment in either option the system asks for a map of the property. This same map is (presumably) used to determine deer harvest recommendations under the HO but deer survey data is used to make harvest recommendations under the CO (since it’s required for the option).
Per TPWD, “The MLDP program is intended to foster and support sound management and stewardship of native wildlife and wildlife habitats on private lands in Texas. Deer harvest is an important aspect of habitat management and conservation. Landowners enrolled in either the MLDP Harvest Option or Conservation Option are able to take advantage of extended season lengths and liberalized harvest opportunities.”
MLDP participation is completely voluntary, but better deer herd management and longer deer hunting seasons are very compelling, especially with regard to the Conservation Option. I can envision situations where the Harvest Option may be a good idea for certain properties as well.
The MLDP enrollment deadlines for each option are rapidly approaching, August 1, so whether you have participated in the past or are consider register for the upcoming hunting season, act fast. Just remember that once enrolled, program participants must meet MLDP requirements for the full year of enrollment. The specific information on each option can be found here.
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