Hunting and Fishing Licenses Go on Sale Aug. 15

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New hunting and fishing licenses for 2003-04 will be available beginning Aug. 15, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is urging customers to buy early and avoid the Labor Day Weekend rush heading into the dove hunting season. All current annual hunting and fishing licenses expire on Sunday, Aug. 31.

"If you wait to renew your license the weekend before dove season opens (Monday, Sept. 1 for North and Central zones), you will be competing with about 300,000 other hunters and anglers that are expected to race to the stores during the holiday weekend," said Mary Fields, Chief Financial Officer at TPWD.

Texas issues 3.2 million hunting and fishing licenses annually through 28 TPWD field offices, more than 100 state parks and at many retailers across Texas.

Hunters and anglers can also purchase licenses by calling (800) 895-4248. The phone license operation serves both Texans and non-residents, enabling hunters and anglers to buy licenses by phone using a major credit card. Call center hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday — Friday and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. A license confirmation number is issued at the time of purchase, and the physical license is mailed separately. Confirmation numbers will verify that a license has been purchased but will not allow hunters to take fish or wildlife that requires a tag. A $5 fee is charged for ordering by phone.

The state is working on an Internet-based system whereby hunting and fishing licenses could be purchased online in future years.

Bill Addison, TPWD license section manager, noted that for the first time in a few years, nothing has changed in the license format or feel. "License buyers will easily recognize the new license this fall since it is unchanged. Hunters will note the same familiar game log on the back of their license. In addition to tagging a harvested animal, hunters will need to fill out harvest record information on their license."

Customers will notice an increase in the cost of their licenses this year. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Commission voted this year to increase most hunting and fishing license and boat registration fees. The cost of senior and youth license types did not increase.

Annual resident hunting and fishing licenses increased to $23 each and a combination hunting and fishing license increased to $42. For the avid outdoor enthusiast, the Super Combo license includes resident combination hunting and fishing licenses plus all seven state hunting and fishing endorsements/stamps for $59. Sold separately, the face value of the Super Combo package is $99. Seniors can purchase the discounted Senior Super Combo license for $25 or pay $10 for a senior combination hunting and fishing license.

Anyone planning to hunt migratory game birds such as dove and waterfowl this year must be certified under the Harvest Information Program (HIP). Migratory game bird hunters (doves and migratory game birds) are urged to check their new license at the time of sale; HIP certification will be printed on the license at the time of sale only after the purchaser answers a few brief migratory bird questions. Lifetime license holders must also be HIP-certified to hunt migratory birds.

Wherever licenses are sold, several other items for the 2003-04 season are also available, including Annual Public Hunting Permits and entries in Big Time Texas Hunt drawings.

The Big Time Texas Hunts program offers the opportunity to win one or more guided hunts with food and lodging provided. Proceeds are dedicated to providing more public hunting opportunities and funding wildlife conservation and/or research programs in Texas. Entries in the Big Time Texas Hunt drawings are $10 each. There is no limit to the number of entries an individual may purchase, and entries may be purchased as gifts for others. Purchasers must be 17 years old or older. Information about the Big Time Texas Hunts and an entry form is available on the Web (www.tpwd.state.tx.us/hunt/pubhunt/bigtime.htm).

The entry deadline on all categories is midnight Nov. 1, 2003. Entries may be purchased year-round, but entries received after the deadline will be entered in the drawing for the following year.

The Reel Texas Adventure Saltwater Slam and the Big Bass Bonanza drawings have been eliminated, so there are no more Reel Texas Adventure sales. See the License Information web pages on the TPWD Web site (www.tpwd.state.tx.us) for the latest information.

The $48 Annual Public Hunting Permit allows hunters access to more than a million acres of public hunting lands, including more than 160 units leased exclusively for hunting dove, pheasant, waterfowl and other small game. Youths younger than age 17 may hunt on public hunting lands without the permit if they have the $6 Special Resident Hunting license and are hunting with a permitted adult. A Public Hunting Lands map booklet and supplement of dove lease maps will be mailed within a week of purchase of the permit at retail outlets; however, the map booklet and supplement can be obtained immediately by purchasing the permit at a TPWD law enforcement office.

TPW magazine subscriptions will continue to be sold through the license system at rates of $19.95 for one year and $32.95 for two years.