Powderhorn WMA Offers Unique Hunting, Habitat

Powderhorn Ranch is a soon-to-be wildlife management area (WMA) and state park administered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), but the hunting has already begun. A group of 14 lucky youth hunters had the opportunity to take part in the first-ever public hunting opportunity at Powderhorn Ranch, which is located just north of the Port O’Connor City Limits.

The youth group got to experience remote deer hunting and the ups and downs that go with it, as well as learn more about the wildlife that call the Texas coast home.

Hunting Powderhorn Ranch

The hunt was a result of a partnership with the Texas Youth Hunting Program (TYHP) and Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. The TYHP strives to get kids outdoors so that they can experience what hunting is all about, such as being safe, ethical and making sound use of our natural resources. Many parents and their kids are interested in hunting, but having a place to go ends up being the limiting factor.

Powderhorn WMA Park Hunting

The TYHP tries to fill the gap by combining outdoor teaching and experience with interested youth hunters and their mentors on properties where hunting is beneficial to the resource. The newly-acquired property fit the bill, since not completely staffed and ready for TPWD’s drawn hunt system.

The opportunity not only presented a learning experience for young hunters also was the public’s first introduction to Powderhorn Ranch.

Powderhorn WMA

The Powderhorn is as cool as its name, sprawling an incredible 17,351 acres. The Powderhorn is located along the coastal prairies of Texas, comprised of woodlands, grasslands and, of course, wetlands. A variety of native wildlife species call this property home.

The Powderhorn Ranch is to serve both as a state-managed WMA and Texas state park. This means the Powderhorn Ranch WMA should offer hunting opportunities for deer, doves, ducks, geese and non-native feral hogs, too. The park will provide day-use and overnight facilities for families interesting in exploring Texas’ coastal plains.

Powderhorn Patchwork

Source: “Everything has purpose and value, but it also has timing and balance,” said Gene McCarty, the property’s caretaker and retired deputy executive director of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “I like to call it a mosaic. It’s a patchwork of habitats that all work together.”

Powderhorn Ranch was acquired in 2014 and with the infrastructure and environmental renovation, the property is being opened to the public in a limited fashion. The plan is to open as a state park sometime after it changes into the care of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 2018.

McCarty scanned the golden grasslands boarded by the Powderhorn lake and live oak mots.

“If they only know this world from looking at their iPhones, all this is in jeopardy,” McCarty said as he shook his head side to side. “These places are so beautiful, so unique, so important to the bigger picture. It’s important we do what we can to protect the pieces that are left and to be able to use those pieces for the education and enjoyment of its citizens.”

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Colorado Bend State Park Hunting

Colorado Bend State Park (SP) offers hunting for a variety of game species, but white-tailed deer hunting is the most popular. All hunts are by special permit only, which means hunters must apply and be selected to hunt at Colorado Bend SP. The park offers archery deer hunts, gun hunts for antlerless and spike deer, either sex gun hunts for bucks and does, and either sex gun hunts for youth hunters.

During these deer hunts, selected hunters at Colorado Bend can shoot an feral hogs, aoudad and other exotic deer in unlimited numbers. The park does not have high numbers of exotic deer, although hog populations are strong and aoudad numbers are likely increasing. On gun hunts, the success rate (harvest of at least a single animal) runs about 30-40 percent.

Hunting at Colorado Bend State Park

Colorado Bend Hunting Information

Colorado Bend SP consists of 5,328 acres of cedar-dominated, rough terrain and is located about 4 miles south of the community of Bend in San Saba County. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is managing the property for public use and native habitat and wildlife.

Objectives to restore and maintain healthy populations of native fauna and flora in their natural habitats and to provide for compatible public use. Where game populations exceed the carrying capacity of the habitat, the preferred method of reduction is public hunting. Hunters are the only way TPWD manages deer in the park and hunting helps to control feral hogs and exotic ungulates.

Selected, permitted hunters should report to the hunter check station by 10:30 a.m. on the first day of their assigned hunt period. The hunter check station is located at the Colorado Bend SP park maintenance area.

Hunting at Colorado Bend

Persons interested in deer hunting at Colorado Bend SP and most other public hunting lands in Texas must apply through TPWD’s online drawing system. Selected hunters will get an email notifying them of their selection and that they must pay the required fee by specified deadline.

Drawn hunters must contact the area staff as soon as possible if they are unable to attend their accepted hunt or not able to arrive on the first day for orientation. Colorado Bend SP does offer opportunities for standby hunter positions. Standby hunters should report to the check station by 10:30 a.m. on the first day of the desired hunt period to complete the application process. Standby hunters will be drawn at 11:00 a.m., as vacancies permit.

Colorado Bend State Park Hunting Map

Following an orientation, TPWD personnel will guide hunters to their hunt compartment. Hunting will end at 11:00 a.m. on the final day of the assigned hunt.

Colorado Bend Hunt Rules

Hunters are reminded that they must have a Special Permit, valid Texas Hunting License, and any stamp as required by statute. Hunters 17 years of age and older must have in their possession a valid I.D. Hunter Safety Education is required of Texas hunters born on or after September 2, 1971.

Hunters must wear a minimum of 400 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange material, with at least 144 square inches appearing on both chest and back and orange headwear.

During deer hunts, only one legally permissible weapon per hunter will be allowed into the hunt area.

Non-permitted visitors and family members will not be allowed in the hunt area during hunts except that a non-hunting person directly assisting a permitted handicapped individual will be allowed.

Hunters will be responsible for the reasonable care of their game after harvest. No facilities for deer storage are available on the park, but commercial facilities are available in the towns of Cherokee, Lampasas, Llano, Lometa and San Saba.

Hunters do not use tags off of their hunting license. Hunters that harvest a deer will be given a TPWD Legal Deer Tag, issued at the area, that must be attached to a harvested deer prior to leaving the hunt area.

Disturbance or removal of plants, rocks, artifacts, or other objects is prohibited. The possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited.
Hunters’ vehicles will be allowed into the hunt area only on designated roads and disabled individuals may hunt from a stationary motor vehicle. Operation of an off-road vehicle(ORV) or all terrain vehicle (ATV) is prohibited, except by disabled persons or an adult directly assisting a disabled person.

For more information on Colorado Bend State Park hunting, give them a call at 325-628-3240.

Recommendations for Hunting Colorado Bend SP

Camping is available at Colorado Bend SP for permitted deer hunters. However, there are no hookups for electricity or water at the camping area, nor is there a trailer dump station available on the park. Chemical toilets and drinking water are provided in the camping area.

Campfires are allowed on the Park in designated fire rings. The normal overnight camping fee will be charged to those hunters utilizing the park’s facilities. In addition, commercial motels and campgrounds are available in the surrounding towns of Lampasas, Llano, and San Saba.

It is recommended that each public hunter bring a flashlight, food, drinking water, and foul weather gear. A good pair of boots is a must since public hunters will often encounter some rugged, rocky terrain.