MLDP Enrollment & Registration is Online



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).


MLDP Enrollment

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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Special White-winged Dove Zone Hunting Season Expanded

Good News: There will be more white-winged dove hunting in the Texas South Zone this fall because of a special season expansion! South Texas dove hunters will see more shots at dove this year thanks to a season framework adjustment expanding the early September 4-day Special White-winged Dove Area hunting season to the entire South Zone boundary.

The change to the special white-winged dove hunting season is part of the 2017-18 migratory game bird seasons adopted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “For the second straight year, Texas will be taking advantage of a 90-day dove season and the expansion of early white-winged dove hunting during the first two weekends in September, in effect, create early September hunting opportunities statewide for the first time ever,” said Dave Morrison, TPWD Wildlife Division deputy director.

Dove Hunting Season 2017-18

Texas Dove Population Looks Good

It’s been another good year for rain in much of the state and that helps with annual bird production. Expect both mourning and white-winged dove numbers to be good, especially in areas where seed-producing plants are present. Look for sunflowers and implement a little pre-season strip-shredding for some fast and furious pass shooting.

As usual, expect potentially dry conditions in early September to push doves in droves to stock tanks and other accessible water sources. These sites are particularly good in the late afternoon and early evening.

Below is the dove season calendar and framework for 2017-18:

Texas Dove Hunting Seasons 2017-18

North Zone: Sept. 1 – Nov. 12 and Dec. 15-31.

Central Zone: Sept. 1 – Nov. 5 and Dec. 15 – Jan. 7, 2018.


Special White-winged Dove Days (entire South Zone): Sept. 2-3, 9-10.

South Zone: Sept. 22 – Nov. 8 and Dec. 15 – Jan. 21, 2018.

Bag Limit: The daily bag limit for doves statewide is 15 and the possession limit 45.

Special White-wing Dove Area

During the early two weekends in the Special White-winged Dove Days, hunting is allowed only from noon to sunset and the daily bag limit is 15 birds, to include not more than two mourning doves and two white-tipped doves. During the general season in in the special area, the aggregate bag limit is 15 with no more than two white-tipped doves.

Waterfowl Hunting in Texas: State Contributes for Habitat

Waterfowl and Texas

Waterfowl hunting in Texas is big deal. Each year, hunters across the state chase ducks and geese from the Panhandle down to the coastal plains. But very few of the birds harvested in Texas are produced here. The bulk of waterfowl breeding habitat is found much further north.

“Waterfowl habitat conservation has to take place not only here on Texas’ continentally significant wintering grounds, but also on the breeding grounds that produce our waterfowl,” Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Executive Director Carter Smith said.

Texas Waterfowl Hunting

“TPWD is proud to be a strong DU partner across North America. Ducks Unlimited’s match and leveraging ability give our contributions four times the impact we could have alone. That’s a return on investment we can all be proud of.”

Habitat Work for Waterfowl


During remarks at Ducks Unlimited’s 80th National Convention, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith announced the department’s decision to award Ducks Unlimited $600,000 for habitat management projects on waterfowl breeding grounds in Prairie Canada.

This commitment brings Texas’ cumulative contribution for habitat conservation on Canadian breeding grounds important to Texas’ waterfowl to more than $4 million.

Habitat Work Funded by Texas Hunters

Recognizing the migratory nature of waterfowl, state wildlife agencies have been contributing to habitat conservation in Canada since 1965. More than 40 states participated this year, and funding comes primarily through hunting license sales. In Texas, all funding comes from the state Migratory Game Bird Stamp fund.

This fund is solely supported by the sale of Migratory Game Bird Stamps, required of all migratory bird hunters in Texas. These funds may be used to support waterfowl habitat conservation in Canada, and Texas has been doing so since 1985.

“The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is one of our greatest partners in conservation in Texas and across the continent. They continue making wise investments in waterfowl habitat important to the birds that wing their way to the Lone Star State each year,” said DU Southern Region Director Jerry Holden.

“Banding data shows us a large portion of the ducks harvested in Texas come from Saskatchewan and Alberta, so investing the state’s dollars in this region clearly provides the greatest return for Texas waterfowl hunters.”

Waterfowl Breeding Grounds

Breeding ground habitat work is critical for the health of continental populations of waterfowl, and Texas’ waterfowl hunters understand that. The nearly 50,000 Texas DU members are appreciative of TPWD’s continued contributions to the program.

“The importance of state contributions to Canadian habitat conservation and restoration projects cannot be overstated,” said DU Canada’s Director of International Partnerships Pat Kehoe. “Individual state contributions are combined with other state contributions, matched dollar for dollar by DU Inc., used as match for North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants and then leveraged further by DU Canada.”

Ducks Unlimited Committed to Waterfowl

Ducks Unlimited’s programs in the U.S. and Canada are science-based and consistent with the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Prairie conservation programs on both sides of the border are structured to protect native, highly productive habitat while also improving waterfowl production in working agricultural landscapes.

These habitat projects have benefits far beyond waterfowl, including nature based flood protection, groundwater recharge, water quality enhancements and habitat for hundreds of species of wildlife.

Hot Air Balloon Hog Hunting in Texas? Yes!

It’s not all hot air. Soon hunters in Texas can literally “make it rain” onto herds of feral hogs using the comfort and stealth that hot air balloons provide. Texas lawmakers have approved the hunting of feral hogs and coyotes from hot air balloons. Boom!

Feral hogs numbers have increased dramatically over the past few decades, and it seems lawmakers will stop at nothing to provide hunters with opportunities to control the non-native, rooting machines that are feral hogs. Hunting is already open year-round and their are zero bag limits. Hunt on.

Hog Hunting from Hot Air Balloons in Texas

Texas’ growing hog population causes millions of dollars worth of damage to agricultural crops every year. Texas has an estimated 3 million feral hogs. The high breeding rate of wild pigs and a lack of natural predators has seen feral hog numbers skyrocket. With hog numbers going up, so should the hunters.

Texas already allows the shooting of feral hogs from helicopters, but in addition to be costly, many say it is unsuccessful because the aircraft often scare the hogs out of shooting range. Hot air balloons are quieter and offer a more stable shooting platform, which understandably would be better for “sniper-like” hog hunting.

Before hunters can take to they sky for bacon to fry, the bill does require the state to license hot air balloon hunting. But with the bill out of the state congress and house, it now goes to Texas Governor Greg Abbott for his consideration. And in Texas, you know he’s gonna sign it like it’s hot… air balloon.

READ: Texas Investigates New Ways to Control Feral Hogs

Wildlife Friendly Water Troughs

With temperatures heating up wildlife friendly water troughs are more important in Texas than ever. Hot, dry weather means wildlife will be in search of water, but is your water trough wildlife friendly?

Not all water sources are created equally. Some watering facilities may limit wildlife access based on their design. During periods of low rainfall, when many ponds and creeks dry up, surface water is limited. Many wildlife species of drown in troughs trying to reach water because they got in and then were unable to escape.

Water Troughs for Wildlfie

Troughs for Wildlife Need Escape Ladders

Escape ladders are an important part of a wildlife friendly water trough. These ladders can be installed in troughs to give animals a way out if they do fall in. These ladders can be made of many materials and may even include a series of rocks that act as stepping stones, but the material used for an escape ladder must be durable.

Wildlife ladders in troughs allow animals access the water, but more importantly, exit the trough. Instructions for building escape ladders are provided online by the Natural Resource Conservation Service in the following publications:

Evaluating Wildlife Friendly Watering Sites

Many troughs exist for watering livestock. In most cases, modifications to “working” troughs will have to be reinforced to a greater extent than a trough that is install strictly for wildlife use. Troughs that serve both livestock and wildlife are feasible, but planning is necessary to ensure you are meeting the needs of all of your constituents.

Check out the slideshow below for some great information on creating and restoring safe and accessible water sources for livestock, bats and other wildlife.

Water for Wildlife Slideshow

Rainwater Collection for Wildlife Water

An alternative source of water may be installing a wildlife water guzzler that captures and uses rainwater. These are great options for fields that were once cultivated or smaller properties that may not have a source of water but are providing supplemental water as a qualifying practice for a wildlife tax valuation. Wildlife including deer, turkeys, small mammals and birds will visit these wildlife friendly water troughs regularly for hydration.

A collection system can be as expensive or economical as you wish, but keep in mind that longevity of the system as well as maintenance can be addressed through the initial materials that are used. The purpose of a guzzler is to provide water for wildlife and they won’t care if you spend $10 or $10,000.

When a rainwater collection system for wildlife (guzzler) is installed, it’s a good idea to initially fill it with water, then in most years there should be enough annual precipitation to maintain water in them for the critters on your land. A roof funnels water into the holding tank and also slows evaporation. If you have livestock on your property, then it’s recommended you fence the guzzler to keep livestock out.

Golfer Nails Duck While Driving Golf Ball

Flying Duck Hit by Golf Ball

Want to see a flying duck get drilled by a golf ball right off the tee? Not something that anyone would request — but a golfer did unintentionally connect with a duck flying across the fairway recently, and the freakish ash was captured on camera.

In life, and death, it seams, everything is about timing. The golfer was setting up for a great swing and a duck was simply looking for “greener grass,” so to speak. As it turns out, both were surprised.

The guy hit the ball, the ball hit the duck (both in mid-flight) and the duck hit the water.

Company Pulls Fatal Feral Hog Bait

Kaput Feral Hog Bait has pulled from Texas before even a single pig (or anything else) was harmed. Scimetrics Ltd. Corporation (SLC) announced yesterday that it has withdrawn its registration of Kaput Feral Hog Bait in the state of Texas.

SLC announced, “We have received tremendous support from farmers and ranchers in the State of Texas, and have empathy for the environmental devastation, endangered species predation, and crop damage being inflicted there by a non-native animal. However, under the threat of many lawsuits, our family owned company cannot at this time risk the disruption of our business and continue to compete with special interests in Texas that have larger resources to sustain a lengthy legal battle.”

Kaput Hog Bait Pulled from Texas

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller was dismayed over the decision by the maker of Kaput Feral Hog Bait to remove the product from use in the state.

“As Texas Agriculture Commissioner, I am disappointed that landowners, farmers and ranchers will lose this tool to fight back against the growing economic threat of feral hogs. Unfortunately, it seems that once again the hard working folks who turn the dirt and work from sunup to sundown have fallen victim to lawyers, environmental radicals and the misinformed. Once again, politically correct urban media hacks and naysayers win out against the rural folks who produce the food and fiber everyone needs.”

The Kaput Feral Hog Bait label included warfarin and had been approved by the U.S. EPA, which requires meeting stringent testing and documentation requirements. To meet these high standards, many years of work have gone into developing and proving the safety and effectiveness of Kaput Feral Hog Bait.

SLC had hoped to provide this valuable new resource to the farmers of Texas, whose crops and land have been devastated by the estimated 2.5 million feral hogs in the state. The company also hoped to alleviate the risk posed by the many diseases these hogs carry being transmitted to both the livestock and the food supply of Texas, by offering an alternative solution to current programs that cannot keep up with the quickly growing feral hog population.

It appears feral hogs in Texas are no longer on notice. SLC ended its announcement to pull Kaput from Texas with, “Unfortunately, we have discontinued our attempts to provide this resource in Texas at this time. We are grateful for the support we have received from the agricultural community of Texas.”

Pronghorn Population in Texas on Rise

The pronghorn population in Texas in on the rise according to officials with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). The Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Restoration Project progressed with another successful relocation recently of 109 pronghorn, helping to boost once-declining numbers in that area.

This marks the fifth year that pronghorn have been transplanted from healthy populations around Pampa in the Texas Panhandle to an area northeast of Marfa to supplement severely depleted pronghorn populations in the Trans Pecos region.

The relocation process was coordinated among the Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University (BRI), Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Working Group, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF) and USDA-Wildlife Services. Quicksilver Air, Inc. conducted the capture.

Pronghorn Populations Increase in Texas

Texas’ Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Population

The Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Restoration Project is a five-year, $1.4 million public-private partnership with the TPWF. To date, more than $900,000 has been secured. The objective of the Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Restoration Project is to bolster declining pronghorn populations through wildlife management practices, including: translocations, habitat improvements, and predator management.

At least 17,000 pronghorn historically roamed the West Texas region, but by 2012 there were estimated to be less than 3,000. As of last summer, pronghorn numbers had doubled, based on a TPWD aerial census survey.

Pronghorn on Rise, With Help

“With the help of Mother Nature, translocations, and other management actions populations are bouncing back in this region of Texas,” said Shawn Gray, TPWD Pronghorn Program Leader. “We hope populations in our restoration areas will continue to grow and become another source for pronghorn in the next few years to help supplement other herds in the Trans-Pecos.”

Gray noted that survival and production rates among transplanted pronghorn have been encouraging over the last few years, thanks to improved range conditions and intensive management activities.

“Historic drought severely impacted survival in 2011 at just 20 percent, while good range conditions and more intensive management actions have led to much higher survival rates of between 70-85 percent during the other translocations,” he noted. “Over the last four years, herds that received transplanted pronghorn have done well and have had above average fawn production.”

The relocation process is not your ordinary roundup.

Moving Pronghorn Between Populations

At the capture site, workers take each animal’s temperature to monitor stress, along with blood and fecal samples for disease surveillance. The pronghorn also receive a mild sedative to minimize stress during capture and transport. Ear tags are attached for identification. Forty of the latest group of captured pronghorn were fitted with satellite radio collars, programmed to collect GPS locations every 15 minutes. At about 1 ½ years post-release, the satellite collars will automatically drop from the animals and be retrieved by researchers to refurbish and redeploy in future translocations. After processing, the pronghorn were transported by trailer to the release site northeast of Marfa.

“The capture could not have gone any smoother,” said Dr. Bob Dittmar, Wildlife Veterinarian for TPWD. “The pronghorn were in excellent shape and traveled really well.“

Population Monitoring

During the next year, the BRI and TPWD will closely monitor the translocated pronghorn to determine survival, reproductive productivity, fawn survival, habitat utilization, and movements. This research has and will continue to define the best management practices essential in growing Texas pronghorn populations in the Trans-Pecos region.

“We sincerely appreciate all the cooperation and support from our partners and the Pampa and Trans-Pecos communities,” stated Gray. “Their continued support will ensure pronghorn herds in the Trans-Pecos will prosper in our desert grasslands.” It will take continued effort in the forms of herd and harvest management to ensure pronghorn hunting into the future.

War on Warfarin, Hogs to Take Place in Court

Before the war on Texas’ ever-growing feral hog population rages on the battle will be fought by fought in a court. A Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) rule change that would have permitted the use of a warfarin-containing bait to poison feral hogs is now delayed after a state district judge in Austin issued a temporary restraining order last week.

A commercial hog processing business, Wild Boar Meats, requested that District Judge Jan Soifer to suspend the emergency rules that would allow Kaput Feral Hog Bait to be sold to and used by licensed pesticide applicators. This effectively puts the breaks on the toxic bait until the guys in suits sort it out.

Feral Hog Control in Texas

Feral Hogs in Texas

Feral hogs, which number in the millions across Texas, costs rural and suburban residents millions of dollars annually. The consumption or destruction of agricultural products, turfgrass and the like take a toll on landowners in terms of both time and money. State Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller had said the poison would expand the ways available to kill the animals.

Warfarin is currently used as a blood thinner in humans, but it’s also found in rat poison. Swine are very sensitive to the compound, but they are not the only wildlife species that may be impacted once warfarin-carrying hogs, whether dead or alive, are on the landscape.

Wild Boar Meats buys live and dead hogs and processes them for sale to the pet food industry. Owner Will Herring said the year-old company processed as many as 5,000 hogs in February alone. “The problem is we haven’t discovered any way through freezing or heating to kill the warfarin in the meat of the animal,” he said. “This could potentially kill the industry. My customers want to make sure there’s no rat poison in the meat that we’re turning into pet food.”

Kaput - A Warfarin Based Hog Poison

A War on Warfarin?

A representative with Colorado-based Genesis Laboratories, which developed Kaput, told the American-Statesman that the hog bait contains only one-fifth of the concentration of warfarin found in conventional rodenticides.

TDA spokesman Mark Loeffler said the emergency rules were meant as a regulatory safeguard on the product, which already has federal approval, as it hits the Texas market. Legal briefs supporting Wild Boar Meats were filed by the Texas Hog Hunters Association and the Environmental Defense Fund.

“Spreading rat poison across Texas lands would hurt Texas hunters, Texas hunting-supply businesses, Texas feral hog meat processing businesses, Texas ranchers and the Texas environment,” said Eydin Hansen, vice president of the hog hunters association.

Warfarin Approved for Hog Control in Texas

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller will be announcing approval of a major new weapon in the ongoing war against feral hogs in Texas. Commissioner Miller has approved a rule change in the Texas Administrative Code (TAC) that classifies a new warfarin-based product as a state-limited-use pesticide for control of feral hogs.

State-limited-use pesticides may only be bought and used by a licensed applicator or someone under the direct supervision of a licensed applicator. The pesticide, “Kaput Feral Hog Lure,” is the first toxicant to be listed specifically for use in controlling the feral hog population.

Kaput Hog Bait Texas

“Wild hogs have caused extensive damage to Texas lands and loss of income for many, many years,” Commissioner Miller said. “I am pleased to announce that the ‘feral hog apocalypse’ may be within Texans’ reach with the introduction of Kaput’s hog lure.”

Introducing warfarin as the first pesticide available to control the feral hog population is significant because it gives agriculture producers and landowners in Texas a new weapon in the fight against feral hogs with minimal risk to other animals.

Using Warfarin for Feral Hogs

The bait would be limited to private use, and according to the Texas Department of Agriculture department the pesticide, which was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in January, would be classified as “State Limited Use.” This classification would require distributors to hold a pesticide dealer’s license, according to the agriculture department. Buying it would also require a person to be licensed as a pesticide applicator “or under the direct supervision of a licensed applicator.”

According to the release, the TDA chose to regulate the pesticide in this way to “address the risk of inadvertent human consumption of warfarin-exposed hogs and the risk of potential secondary exposure of non-target animals.”

The risks have drawn concerns from hunters and natural resource professionals. Concern for the ecosystem also prompted the Texas Hog Hunters Association to create a petition against the use of the pesticide. Eydin Hansen, the vice president of the association, said, “If a hog dies, what eats it? Coyotes, buzzards … we’re going to affect possibly the whole ecosystem.”

Controlling Feral Hogs

There is no doubt feral hogs are a real problem in Texas. Hogs numbers have continued to increase in the face of year-round hunting, relentless trapping, and aerial-helicopter hunting. “They’re so prolific, you can’t hardly keep them in check,” says Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. “This is going to be the hog apocalypse, if you like: If you want them gone, this will get them gone.”

Warfarin Bait Turns Hog Fat Blue

He also says that “Kaput Feral Hog Lure,” does not pose much danger to other animals because hogs are especially vulnerable to warfarin, and it would take higher doses than the bait contains to harm most other creatures. A Texas Hog Hunters Association spokesman, however, says they oppose the move and would rather stick to hunting and trapping. He’s stated that he’s worried about the risk of feeding poisoned pork to his family, though Miller says that in a “dead giveaway,” the poison will turn hog fat bright blue.

Why can’t we just feed those hungry hogs bacon? It turns out a popular meat preservative works quite well at killing hogs, too.