Time To Apply For Drawings On Public Hunting Lands

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With the fall hunting season looming on the horizon, now’s the time to apply for drawn public hunts. For over 50 years, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been offering quality, affordable hunting experiences through the special drawings for hunts offered through the department’s Public Hunting Program.

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 offering quality supervised hunts for white-tailed deer, mule deer, exotics, feral hog and spring turkey.

Through an application process, hunters can select from among 24 different hunt categories and choose a preferred hunt date and location from 67 hunt areas stretching across the state. There’s even a provision for hunting buddies to apply as a group— in some cases four hunters can apply together on one application.

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.

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

Hunters who have been 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. The hunters will be issued the 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. Guided hunts and private lands hunts cost $10 per adult person on the application. Successfully drawn hunters pay for a Special Permit ($75-125 in most cases) for a one-to-four-day hunt. A Special Permit fee does not apply to hunts for pronghorn antelope, guided hunts at Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area and on private land.

The application deadline for alligator hunts is Aug. 2. For pronghorn antelope hunts on the Rita Blanca National Grasslands north of Dalhart, the deadline is Aug. 18. Bow hunters also have until Aug. 18 to apply for special drawn public archery hunts. Entries for the general (gun) season deer hunts must be received by Sept. 9.

Last year TPWD received 65,179 applications for the 6,199 positions offered in special drawn hunt categories.

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

In addition to the special drawn hunts, hunters can enter for the opportunity to win one or more of TPWD’s Big Time Texas Hunts exciting hunt packages.

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. Last year TPWD received 80,599 entries in the BTTH drawings.

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 plains antelope species.

* Texas Whitetail Bonanza — 10 winners receive a high-quality 3-5 day white-tailed deer hunt.

* Texas Premium Buck Hunt — one winner gets the chance to hunt trophy mature white-tailed deer.

* Texas Waterfowl Adventure — one winner receives a coastal prairie goose hunt and East Texas and coastal duck hunts.

* Texas Big Time Bird Hunt — quality quail, pheasant, dove and turkey hunts in some of the best places Texas has to offer.

* Texas Gator Hunt — a rare experience for a 3-day alligator hunt on a State 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.

Entries for the BTTH hunt packages are still only $10 and hunters can purchase them at any license vendor location or with a 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. The deadline to apply in the BTTH drawings for 2005-06 is midnight Nov. 5.