TPWD Reports Increase in License Sales

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Favorable hunting conditions this fall have led to a three percent increase in sales of hunting and fishing licenses compared to last year, as well as record participation in the 'Big Time Texas Hunts' program, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

"What's surprising is that total licenses sold have increased by nearly 50,000 licenses, meaning more people are buying licenses, possibly because of good rains this year resulting in good hunting prospects," said Scott Boruff, TPWD deputy executive director for operations. "It is very good news that license sales are up and the increased revenue is going to make it easier to face continuing fiscal challenges."

TPWD sells about 3 million licenses annually and as of the first week in November, more than 1.8 million licenses had been sold.

Wildlife biologists have been predicting excellent hunting conditions this fall, particularly for white-tailed deer and bobwhite quail, based on timely rainfall throughout the state.

That more sportsmen and women are eager to take advantage of prime hunting conditions this fall was also evident in sales of Big Time Texas Hunt applications, which increased by about 7,142 entries, generating a record $826,190 in gross revenue and $71,420 more than the same period last year.

"These high-end package hunts continue to gain in popularity," said Lydia Salda'a, TPWD director of communications. "The majority of applications are a result of our direct-mail marketing campaign to core customers like Super Combo license holders."

Winners of this year's Big Time Texas Hunts were selected through a random computer drawing of applicants. Following is a list of winners:

* Texas Grand Slam: Matthias W. Lietsch of Kingwood.

* Texas Exotic Safari: Charles Dippold of Gladewater and Leonard Tarpley of Corpus Christi.

* Texas Whitetail Bonanza: Byron Balke of Bleiblerville, George Coburn of Lawrenceville, Ga., Gary Cox of Grand Prairie, Tracy Dignum of Azle, Ramiro Garcia of Austin, Donald Groom of DeKalb, William Low of Dallas, Kevin Norcross of Stephenville, David Sutton of Lancaster, and David White of Perryton.

* Texas Waterfowl Adventure: Michael Manuel of Vidor.

* Texas Big Time Bird Hunt: James Wilson of Lindale.

* Texas Premium Buck Hunt: Mike Boswell of Dallas.

* Texas Gator Hunt: William Foster of Marshall.

Hunters who were not selected in the Big Time Texas Hunts or TPWD's other special drawing public hunts and are still looking for economical hunting opportunities are encouraged to look at the $48 Annual Public Hunting Permit. This permit offers access to more than a million acres of public hunting land.

Most of the available public land is in East Texas, where agency officials report some quality whitetail bucks have already been taken this fall, including one buck on the Sam Houston National Forest that scored 140 points on the Boone and Crockett Club scoring system.

"We're seeing some really nice deer being harvested off our TPWD-managed lands," said Vickie Fite, TPWD public hunting coordinator.

Annual Public Hunting Permits may be purchased wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold. A detailed map booklet of all available public hunting units is mailed to purchasers within two weeks. Permits purchased at TPWD law enforcement offices will include the map booklet. The current public hunting lands map booklet and public dove hunting and other small game leases supplement are available for viewing on the department's hunting Web page. For more information about public hunting opportunities and the Big Time Texas Hunts, visit the TPWD Web site (>http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/).