Licenses Going on Sale

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New hunting and fishing licenses for 2002-03 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.

All current annual hunting and fishing licenses expire on Aug. 31. Texas issues 3.2 million hunting and fishing licenses annually through 28 TPWD field offices, more than 100 state parks and at most sporting good retailers across Texas.

License buyers will see a new look to their hunting and fishing licenses this fall with the transition to a new format implemented by WorldCom. WorldCom is in the second year of a five-year contract to handle TPWD license sales. Rather than the sales receipt printout license of recent years, new printing technology has enabled TPWD to provide better graphics and a more user-friendly product. The new version will resemble the traditional Texas license with detachable game tags around the license.

Hunters will also note the new required game log on the back of their license this year. In addition to tagging a harvested animal, hunters will need to fill out harvest record information on their license. A blue square Texas Parks and Wildlife logo is part of the new format and will differentiate the license from previous versions.

Hunters and anglers may 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 over the phone using Visa, MasterCard and Discover. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday (Central Standard Time). There is a $5 processing fee on all phone orders. 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 and will allow hunters and anglers to participate in activities that don't require tags.

Anyone planning to hunt migratory game birds such as dove and waterfowl must be certified under the Harvest Information Program. Certification requires answering a few brief questions when purchasing the license. Hunters of migratory game birds should verify that HIP certification is printed on their licenses. Lifetime license holders must also be HIP-certified to hunt migratory birds.

Annual resident hunting and fishing licenses cost $19 each and a combination hunting and fishing license costs $32. For the avid outdoorsman, the Super Combo license includes a resident combination hunting and fishing license plus all seven state hunting and fishing stamps for $49. Sold separately, the face value of the Super Combo package is $82. Senior sportsmen can purchase the discounted Senior Super Combo license for $25 or the $10 senior combination hunting and fishing license.

Wherever licenses are sold, several other items for the 2002-03 season are also available beginning Aug. 15, including Annual Public Hunting Permits and entry forms for 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. In addition to the Texas Grand Slam -- a once-in-a-lifetime package of four separate hunts for desert bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope and mule deer -- the Big Time Texas Hunts categories include the Texas Exotic Safari, Texas Whitetail Bonanza, Texas Waterfowl Adventure, Texas Big Time Bird Hunt, Texas Premium Buck Hunt, Texas Heritage Hunt, and new this year... the Texas Gator Hunt. Entries for the Big Time Texas Hunt drawings are $10 each and must be purchased before midnight on Nov. 2. 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 of age or older. Proceeds from the Big Time Texas Hunts are dedicated to providing more public hunting opportunities and funding wildlife conservation and research programs in Texas.

The $40 Annual Public Hunting Permit allows hunters access to more than a million acres of public hunting lands, including 158 dove hunting units. A map booklet and supplement of dove lease maps will be mailed to individuals purchasing 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.