Often times, the only thing more difficult than finding the game your are chasing is finding a place to go hunting. Fortunately for those in the Lone Star State, the Wildlife Division of TPWD offers Texas Public Hunting Lands for sportsmen all over the state. This is great news for hunters who do not have access to privately-owned land. Public hunting lands provide good hunting opportunities and are low cost, providing access to nearly a million acres of land for hunting for those possessing the Annual Public Hunting permit (APH Permit).
The Annual Public Hunting Permit is a steal at only $48. The permit is valid from September 1 through August 31 of the following year. The hunting permit allows an access to designated public hunting lands in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s public hunting lands program. Hunting is allowed during legal hunting seasons for squirrel, rabbits and hares, white-tailed deer, feral hogs, spring eastern turkey, predators, furbearers, and fishing. All this without having to pay daily permit fees.
The North and South Zone Duck Season re-opened December 10 and while TPWD wildlife management areas have strong hunter numbers taking advantage of duck hunting over the weekend hunt dates, the weekday hunt dates leave plenty of available waterfowl hunting areas and quality hunting for those hunters who might have hunting time during the week. In my opinion, this is the most enjoy time to be out in the marshes.
According to Amos Cooper, duck hunting is quite good on public hunting lands and reservoirs where fresher water conditions and waterfowl food resources can still be found. “Puddle ducks prefer shallow water, and we have an abundance (record numbers of several species) of ducks on the continent this year,” Cooper said. “Specifically, check out the duck hunts on the Big Hill Unit of the JD Murphree WMA where the hunter daily duck bag was close to 4 birds per man per day during the first waterfowl season split.” Compartments two, three and five are always crowd favorites with plenty of birds.
Waterfowl hunting is not the only game available. There is still plenty of feral hog hunting to be found. According to survey results compiled by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service 74 percent of Texas’ 254 counties contain feral hog populations and there is a good chance TPWD offers feral hog hunting opportunities in those counties on public hunting lands.
“Right now is as good a time as any to hit the woods hard for ol’ pig sooie,” said Bill Adams, Pineywoods Ecosystem Project Leader. “In East Texas there are several WMAs that offer year-round hog hunting, but staff recommend keying in on those areas associated with rivers such as Alabama Creek, Alazan Bayou, Angelina Neches/Dam B, North Toledo Bend, and Blue Elbow Swamp Wildlife Management Areas, for the best hog hunting action.“
Along with the appropriate Texas hunting licenses and stamps, permit holders may take youth under age 17 hunting free of charge on these Texas public hunting lands. Youth hunting on departmental public hunting lands must be accompanied by a supervising adult 18 years of age or older who possesses the required APH Permit, a valid hunting license and any required stamps and permits.
TPWD’s new online map feature allows for “virtual scouting” of Texas public hunting lands. By clicking on the locator points, you can follow links to detailed aerial maps with highlighted boundaries and links to information pages from the APH information map booklet. A downloadable Google Earth file is also available that contains all the public hunting areas boundary information along with links to the corresponding APH permit map booklet pages.
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