Texas Offers Once in a Lifetime Hunts

Texas offers several once-in-lifetime type hunts every year. Residents and non-residents can apply for these hunts for $10 with no additional fees, other than once picked you must obtain a valid Texas hunting license.

Hunting is Always in Season

The upcoming hunting seasons may still be months away, but starting today you can enter the Big Time Texas Hunts drawing to win one or more of nine premium guided hunt packages. These exclusive packages include food, lodging, a professional guide, as well as taxidermy in some cases.

Big Time Texas Hunts 2017

Texas Big Time Draw Hunts

The crown jewel of the program is the Texas Grand Slam hunt package, which includes four separate hunts for Texas’ most prized big game animals — the desert bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, mule deer and pronghorn. Other popular guided hunt packages included in the Big Time Texas Hunt program are the Ultimate Mule Deer Hunt, the Premium Buck Hunt, the Exotic Safari, the Wild Hog Adventure and more.

Entries for this year’s Big Time Texas Hunts are available now online for just $9 each, or for $10 each at license retailers. There is no limit to the number of entries an individual may purchase and all proceeds benefit conservation, wildlife management and public hunting. Deadline for entry is October 15.

Big Time Texas Hunts is made possible with support from Toyota and the Texas Bighorn Society. More details on all nine premium hunts can be found online at the link in the above paragraph. These really are once in a lifetime hunts, so best of luck to all that enter!

If you love Texas, you will LOVE this video!

Texas Dove Hunters Associations Offers Scholarships

Texas Dove Hunters Association (TDHA) is offering scholarships to high school seniors in Texas. Pass this on if you have any friends or family that enjoy dove hunting and will be seeking higher education this fall, including tech school, junior college or 4 year university.

Texas Dove Hunters Scholarship

TDHA will be awarding nine $500 scholarships in May! The deadline to submit applications for the 2017 Texas Dove Hunters Association scholarships is Monday, April 3! All electronic essays and mailed applications must be either received or at least postmarked by April 3rd. Time is running out, but there is still time.
Applications are available online at: texasdovehunters.com.

If you have a senior or if you know a senior that enjoys dove hunting and may be interested in some additional money for school then please encourage them to apply for this TDHA scholarship. Questions? Then call the TDHA at 210-764-1189! The TDHA is “Growing the Next Generation of Hunters and Wildlife Ambassadors.”

National Hunting and Fishing Day in Texas

Today is National Hunting and Fishing Day in Texas! In recognition of the 45th annual observance of the conservation successes of hunters and anglers, Gov. Greg Abbott has proclaimed Saturday, Sept. 24, as National Hunting and Fishing Day in Texas.

“Hunting and fishing are family traditions in Texas that have been passed down through generations. I am proud that, just last year, we forever enshrined the right to hunt and fish in the Texas Constitution,” said Gov. Abbott. “As we celebrate Hunting and Fishing Day, I encourage all Texans to learn more about ways we can continue to conserve our natural resources so that future generations can protect our connection with the land.”

National Hunting and Fishing Day in Texas

National Hunting and Fishing Day in Texas

It has been more than a century since America’s first environmentalists — hunters and anglers — established the conservation tradition in our nation. These early environmentalists warned that the population growth and industrial development that offered prosperity for our nation also created serious threats to the future of our wildlife resources.

Hunters and anglers fought for the laws and regulations that created a new system of wildlife management that would rescue many species of wildlife from near extinction and would set aside millions of acres of important habitat to help ensure future wildlife abundance.

In Texas, efforts by anglers helped create protection of red drum and other aquatic resources from commercial over-harvest, as well as conservation of aquatic habitat such as seagrasses and the control of invasive exotic aquatic vegetation.

National Hunting and Fishing Day, formalized by Congress in 1971, was created by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to celebrate conservation successes of hunters and anglers. From shopping center exhibits to statewide expos, millions of citizens learned to appreciate America’s sportsman-based system of conservation funding. That system now generates more than $1.7 billion per year, benefiting all who appreciate wildlife and wild places.

Think Tree Stand Safety First This Hunting Season

One of the most important things, whether hunting or otherwise, is to be safe. Falls are the number of cause of hunting-related fatalities. In just about every case, treestands are the common link, whether it be climbing stands or ladder stands or otherwise. August is treestand safety month and wildlife departments and hunting organizations are reminding hunters to be prepared and stay safe, especially when using a tree stand.

Treestand safety should be practiced at all times. This includes pre-hunting season preparation, whether scouting a location, trimming shooting lanes or putting up a tree stand on a trial basis. Deer and hog hunters should use the same treestand precautions now as they would during fall hunting seasons. When first putting a tree stand in place, consider using a lineman-style belt in addition to a full-body harness. This minimizes the chance of falls and potential injury.

Treestand Safety

Of course, always select a healthy, straight tree for placement and make sure to inform someone know where you are or take someone along during pre-season work. Some treestand safety recommendations include practicing use at ground level then gradually going higher, never carry anything as you climb — use a haul line to raise and lower equipment, and maintaining three points of contact when climbing. Additional treestand safety tips include following manufacturer instructions, especially those related to exceeding manufacturer’s maximum weight and height settings.

As with any piece of equipment, treestands need inspection prior to the use. Replace rusted bolts, frayed straps or, if needed, buy a new treestand. Leaving a tree stand up from one season to the next has some inherent problems that outweigh any convenience. For stands left in place, check them prior to the deer hunting season or before heading to the field.

When a tree stand is exposed to the elements due to long-term placement, it may have damaged straps, ropes and attachment cords — any of which potentially may lead to breakage and failure. Treestand safety means being cognizant of the equipment you use as well as your physical abilities. Have fun, stay safe and come home from the hunt!

My Texas Hunt Harvest – TPWD’s Newest App

Texas hunters can now digitally-document their hunt harvest using Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s newest app, My Texas Hunt Harvest. According to TPWD, “This official free app is designed to make it easier than ever for Texas hunters to report harvested game in real-time. The app is now available for download for Android devices at Google Play and will be available soon for iOS devices at the App Store.” Although the My Texas Hunt Harvest app does not currently replace the paper tagging of deer and turkey, it obviously looks like this could be the future, making hunting license tags obsolete.

My Texas Hunt Harvest App

Built exclusively for Texas hunters, this official Texas Parks and Wildlife app allows hunters to report harvested game in real-time. My Texas Hunt Harvest keeps track of your hunting season successes and harvest information so you can easily access them on your smartphone or tablet. The app also will help Texas Parks & Wildlife biologists manage healthy game populations to keep hunting great in Texas. With My Texas Hunt Harvest, you can:

  • Log your harvested game animals.
  • View your harvest history, including dates and locations of every hunt.
  • Eastern Turkey hunters can now conveniently check their harvested game with the app instead of having to visit physical check stations.
  • After a one-time login, you can easily access your TPWD customer number for future reference.

For hunters specifically in East Texas, the app will help simplify the mandatory eastern turkey reporting process by allowing hunters to report their harvest without traveling to a physical check station. TPWD’s regulations state that hunters are required to report their harvested eastern turkey within 24 hours of harvest.

DOWNLOAD THE APP NOW: My Texas Hunt Harvest

The My Texas Hunt Harvest app can also be used for voluntarily reporting and tracking harvests for all other resident game species. With My Texas Hunt Harvest, hunters can log harvested game and view their harvest history, including dates and locations of every hunt. The electronic reporting options do not fulfill tagging requirements for any game required to be tagged, or requirements for completion of the harvest log on the back of the license as it applies to white-tailed deer.

Commercial Deer Breeding and Hunting Operations Under Fire

It’s increased exponentially is recent years and has turned increasingly negative attention towards white-tailed deer hunting: Captive deer breeding. Pen-raised deer have fueled a segment of the hunting industry that many have tried to ignore, yet others see the breeding and hunting of captive deer as a necessity. Opponents say hunting preserves violate the fair chase concept. But what’s fair? That’s always a gray area, in any discussion.

“Did the animal have a fair chance to escape?” asks Keith Balfourd of the Boone and Crocket Club, a conservation group founded by Theodore Roosevelt. “They’re not hunts, they’re shoots,” he says, “and the club denounces that activity.” Critics of captive deer hunting operations think it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Proponents cite managed herds with optimal nutrition, not to mention genetics. It’s a discussion that pits hunters against hunters.

Source: Breeders sell the deer they raise to owners of private hunting preserves, where bucks and does are kept confined to fenced-in areas for high-paying customers to hunt. A prize buck can fetch $100,000 for breeders.

“It was a small cottage industry to begin with, but in the past 10 to 20 years, more and more folks have gotten into it,” Mark Smith, a wildlife biologist at Auburn University, said.

Landowners across the country have long allowed hunters to shoot deer on their property, but recently breeders and farmers have built high fences to trap deer in smaller areas for hunters who are willing to pay a high price to get access to those smaller areas. While some animal rights activitsts oppose this practice on ethical grounds, wildlife managers criticize the role these preserves play in spreading chronic wasting disease among the nation’s wild deer population, and they would like to see tighter regulations.

Deer farmers and preserve managers argue that their operations provide a boon to rural economies that are strapped for ways to make a living. Ohio, for instance, is home to between 500 and 550 facilities that breed deer or host private hunts, Erica Hawkins of the Ohio Department of Agriculture said. A typical deer farm in Ohio yields $71,391 in annual revenue, according to a 2010 report prepared for a coalition of deer farmers in Ohio. Each farm is a slice of a $59.2 million statewide industry that generates 1,254 jobs. A 2007 study estimated that the industry generated $103 million a year in Pennsylvania and $652 million in Texas — the only two states with a larger industry than Ohio.

“We feel we are approaching a $1 billion industry,” says Chase Clark, president of the Texas Deer Association and a deer farmer himself.

Texas is Hunting Feral Hogs, Urging Control

Texas has the nation’s largest feral hog population with nearly 2.6 million pigs. That means hog hunting likely good in your area, but at what cost? State officials blame the non-native animals for about $500 million in statewide damage, mostly to agricultural production but also impacting urban areas. Feral hogs were introduced to Texas by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. Since that time, these prolific swine have increased the size of their population, filling all suitable habitat across the state. They have probably even filled the unsuitable habitat. Feral hogs are not game animals; wild hogs are considered feral livestock, so their is no formal hunting season and no restrictions on harvest. Shoot ’em all! But now state officials have added another carrot to promote the control of feral hogs, money.

Hog Hunting in Texas

“Texas counties needing financial help controlling feral hogs are being encouraged to pair up and apply for $30,000 in grants. The Texas Department of Agriculture on Tuesday announced the County Hog Abatement Matching Program, or CHAMP.Commissioner Todd Staples says feral hog control efforts need to be coordinated across public entities and private landowners. Individual Texas counties must partner with at least one other county also working on feral hog abatement. Authorities set a July 1 application deadline. Selected applicants will get funding on a cost reimbursement basis. The projects require a minimum match of one dollar for every grant dollar requested, up to $30,000.”

Mountain Lion Road-Killed in Bandera County

There is a lot of talk of mountain lions in Texas. Ask any hunter and they will tell you a story about the one their uncle saw crossing the road, the track they found or the one they saw that got away. The fact is there are more mountain lion stories than there are mountain lions in Texas. And there is one less today because a mountain lion was found road-killed near the town of Bandera. Apparently this rough country still holds a few cats.

Mountain Lion Road-Killed Near Bandera, Texas

Lone Star Outdoor News: “’It was a 121-pound tom found by a road crew in Bandera County,’ said Broach, owner of Rhodes Brothers Taxidermy in Kerrville. ‘The road crew called the game wardens, and the wardens and biologists brought it here for the time being.’

Broach said he isn’t sure what the officials are going to have him do with the lion.

‘I’m hoping I’ll be mounting it for them, because whoever hit him, hit him just right,’ he said. ‘He’s in great shape with no physical damage. That was a very big, healthy tom.’”

MLD Program – Deer Hunting in Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Managed Lands Deer Permit Program, commonly referred to as the MLD Permit Program, is an integral part of white-tailed deer hunting in Texas. Many landowners are involved in the MLD Program because they are interested in habitat management, deer management and the benefits that the program offers them in the management of their property. With the 2011-2012 MLD season completed, TPWD would like to remind all MLD cooperators that collecting and submitting completed harvest data before April 1 is a requirement of the MLD program.

The minimum harvest data requirements from cooperating landowners under MLD levels 2 and 3 must include the following for all harvested deer: date of harvest, sex of deer, age of deer as determined by tooth wear and replacement, field dressed body weight, number of antler points on both right and left beams, inside spread, one main beam length, and one basal circumference. This data is very valuable for evaluating the progress your herd is making, and tracking the impacts of management decisions on the deer herd.

MLD Program - MLDP Program - MLD Permits - Deer Hunting Texas

The more detailed and accurate the data you collect, the more accurate our management decisions become. For those landowners wanting to take their management program to the next level we recommend additional harvest data, aside from the minimum requirements outlined above, which should include the presence or absence of lactation for does, full gross Boone & Crockett scores for all bucks harvested (except spikes) including cull bucks, and a picture of every buck harvested. Remember, detailed data with a good sample size will yield much more accurate management decisions.

TPWD is reminding landowners that failure to submit complete and timely data will result in delayed permit issuance the first time it occurs. Poor or tardy data over several seasons will result in dropping to a lower MLDP level or possibly being removed from the program. Any ranch suspended from the program for non-compliance with the wildlife management plan must wait three years before applying to enter again.

An additional requirement for MLD properties is that an annual late summer/early fall deer survey be completed and that information be submitted to your TPWD biologist. This information helps determine annual harvest, identify potential problems with the herd dynamics, and can be useful in tracking hunter satisfaction through time. If you have questions about your survey (timing, type, etc), contact your local biologist.

Landowners participating in the MLD program can now submit harvest data online in the Texas Wildlife Information Management System (TWIMS), or the data can be mailed or emailed to your cooperating TPWD biologist. By submitting it into TWIMS, you will be able to compare your data with other ranches by county (while still keeping all personal information confidential). The MLD Program is an important component of deer hunting and deer management in Texas, but it only works when willing landowners take an interest in managing their property.

Trapping Axis Deer in Texas: Who’s Right?

There is no doubt that Texans like their deer. Not only do people like seeing and feeding deer, but they like deer hunting as well. Of course, these “people” are not all the same, not everyone is a hunter. But it’s deer trapping, not hunting, that is now a hot topic. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department regulates the trapping of game species such as white-tailed deer, but not the trapping of axis deer and other exotic wildlife. And some Ruby Ranch residents, a subdivision east of Buda, Texas, do not like the trapping of these non-natives either.

As it turns out, some Ruby Ranch residents are legally trapping exotic deer including the spiral-horned blackbuck antelope and axis and fallow deer that roam the neighborhood and are either moving the animals or selling deer to Texas ranchers. That has other animal-loving residents are demanding that the Ruby Ranch Homeowners Association change its covenants to forbid the trapping of axis deer and other exotic ungulates.

Trapping Axis Deer in Texas - Trapping Exotics

“The deer enhance the value of our properties,” resident Chris Scallon said of his rural neighborhood. “And the way some people are trapping deer is inhumane. We know of one resident who is luring the deer into a fenced enclosure in his backyard, and then he loads them into a horse trailer, where they can hurt themselves in transport.”

Texas law does not protect non-native species like blackbuck antelope as it does native white-tailed deer, said Clayton Wolf, a spokesman for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “It’s allowed to trap, transport and sell them,” Wolf said. However, he added that cities, towns and homeowners associations must apply for permits to get rid of whitetail deer.

In Ruby Ranch, the story of the exotic deer and their fate centers on the Ruby Ranch Homeowners Association and its position not to govern the trapping, some residents say.

“The homeowners association has sat on this deer trapping issue for too long,” said Sonny Hollub, who started HOG (Homeowners Oversight Group), a group of more than 40 homeowners who are fed up with the homeowners association not doing anything about the trapping of exotics. Homeowners association board President Kevin Rodriguez acknowledges that some residents have trapped deer for several years but said there has never been a consensus for new regulations or to stop the practice.

“In our annual meetings, we get 100 residents who attend, and they’ve been split 50-50 on the issue. Our position has been that we’re not sure what people want,” Rodriguez said.

Tuesday night, the homeowners association and its attorney met with residents to explain that the association can’t change the covenants. Instead, it’s up to the concerned residents to get at least 75 percent of the 300 homeowners to agree to new language in the covenants to bar the practice.

“Our hands are tied,” Rodriguez said. “There are no state or local regulations to stop this. Homeowners are asking us to stop the trapping and hunting of these animals, and we can’t. And there are no restrictive covenants that say you can’t trap or hunt the deer found in the subdivision.”

“If they get 75 percent of the homeowners to agree, then that’s it. It becomes official,” Rodriguez said. The residents may ban the trapping of axis deer, fallow deer and blackbuck antelope, but are they sure it’s a good idea? These animals are not native to Texas, and other subdivisions around the state are already facing issues with native white-tailed deer overpopulation. What if these non-natives become an even bigger issue? What do you think should happen?