Texas Public Hunt Drawings Offer Affordable Hunting

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With fall hunting seasons shaping up to be among the best in recent memory, according to state wildlife biologists, now is the time to begin making preparations. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will be conducting special drawings for hunts and applications for these quality, affordable hunting experiences are available now.

During the upcoming hunting seasons, more than 5,000 hunters will be selected through random computer drawings allowing access to some of the state's high-quality managed wildlife habitat. Wildlife management areas, state parks and leased private property will be available for these quality supervised hunts for white-tailed deer, mule deer, pronghorn, javelina, alligator, exotics, feral hog and spring turkey.

Through an application process, hunters can select from among 31 different hunt categories and choose a preferred hunt date and location from 69 hunt areas stretching across the state. There's even a provision for hunting buddies to apply as a group — in some cases up to four hunters can apply together on one application.

"Hunters interested in applying for drawn hunts this season should pay close attention to the application deadlines which have changed for some hunt categories," said Kelly Edmiston Program Specialist with TPWD’s public hunting program. "Three new hunt categories have also been added for this year: private lands pronghorn, archery mule deer and gun mule deer. "

Eight free youth-only hunt categories are available to hunters who are between the ages of 8–16 at the time of application. All hunt positions are randomly selected in a computer drawing from all correctly completed entries received by the specified deadline.

In addition to exceptional hunting opportunities for big game, such as white-tailed deer and mule deer, TPWD's special drawing hunts will offer some unique opportunities. A guided bighorn sheep hunt at a West Texas wildlife management area will again be offered this year depending on the availability of a bighorn sheep permit.

There are also some unique guided hunt opportunities on Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area, including hunts for axis deer, waterbuck, white-tailed deer, scimitar-horned oryx and gemsbok.

Hunters drawn in the special permit hunts are not required to use a tag off their hunting license on white-tailed or mule deer that are taken during the hunt. The hunters will be issued a free TPWD legal deer tag at the area when they bring their harvested animal to the check station. This will allow the public hunters additional opportunity to use their license tags.

The application fee for adult applicants in most of the public hunt drawings is $3 per adult person on the application. Successfully drawn hunters pay an additional Special Permit fee ($75–125 in most cases) for a one-to-four-day hunt.

Special Permit fees do not apply to drawn hunts for pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, guided hunts at Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area, and drawn hunts on private land. Guided hunts and private land hunts cost $10 per adult person on the application.

The application deadline for alligator hunts is Aug. 2. For pronghorn antelope hunts on private land or the Rita Blanca National Grasslands north of Dalhart, the deadline is Aug. 16. Bowhunters also have until Aug. 16 to apply for special drawn public archery hunts. Entries for the general (gun) season deer hunts must be received by Sept. 6. Deadline for the Guided Bighorn Sheep Hunt is November 1.

Last year TPWD received 38,606 applications for the 5,833 positions offered in special drawn hunt categories.

Information and applications for Special Permit hunts are available on the Public Hunting Web site. Application booklets are currently being mailed to hunters who applied for special permit drawn hunts last year. The booklets are also available at TPWD law enforcement offices. Information about Special Permit drawn hunts can be found on-line or by calling toll free (800) 792-1112.

Because the outlook is so bright for this year's hunting seasons, TPWD is expecting a jump in hunter participation and is encouraging hunters to make plans early. Hunting licenses go on sale Aug. 15 and hunters should try to avoid the last-minute rush by buying a license early. Last year, nearly 350,000 licenses were sold over the Labor Day holiday weekend, which coincides with the dove season opener.

When purchasing your hunting license, be sure to enter for the opportunity to win one or more of TPWD’s Big Time Texas Hunts. The BTTH program offers some of the finest guided hunts in the state. Proceeds from BTTH pay for wildlife conservation work and additional public hunting opportunities in Texas.

This year's BTTH line-up offers the following hunt packages:

  • * Texas Grand Slam — one winner experiences a series of four separate hunts for desert bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope.
  • * Texas Exotic Safari — two winners get to hunt a choice of African big game species.
  • * Texas Whitetail Bonanza — 10 winners and their hunting companions receive a high-quality 3-5 day white-tailed deer hunt.
  • * Texas Premium Buck Hunt — one winner and a hunting guest get the chance to hunt mature trophy white-tailed deer.
  • * Texas Waterfowl Adventure — one winner can bring up to 3 hunting guests on a coastal prairie goose hunt and East Texas and coastal duck hunts.
  • * Texas Big Time Bird Hunt — one winner and guests will enjoy quality quail, pheasant, dove and turkey hunts in some of the best places Texas has to offer.
  • * Texas Gator Hunt — a rare opportunity for a 3-day alligator hunt on the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area.

All Big Time Texas Hunts packages include food, lodging and a hunting guide. Some packages, such as the Texas Grand Slam and Texas Exotic Safari provide taxidermy of harvested game. For each BTTH hunt package, the winner can bring along one or more guests, and in some cases guests may also hunt or enjoy other benefits — see the Web site or brochure for details. The deadline to apply in the BTTH drawings for 2007–08 is midnight Oct. 15.

Entries for the BTTH hunt packages are still only $10 and hunters can purchase them at any license vendor location or with a major credit card online or by phone at (800) 895-4248. Participants must be age 18 or older to enter and may apply as many times as they like.