Hunters hoping to take advantage of economical quality hunts on state-managed lands are reminded of upcoming application deadlines. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will be offering adult and youth only hunts by special drawing for a wide variety of species as part of its Public Hunting Program.
Applications for several hunt categories, including all archery only and crossbow hunts, pronghorn, and TPWD private lands hunts are due by 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12. All gun deer and youth deer hunt category applications must be received by 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 2.
During the upcoming hunting seasons, almost 5,500 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 29 different hunt categories, including eight specifically for youth only, and choose a preferred hunt date and location from 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.
New for this year, TPWD is offering crossbow deer hunts concurrent with archery deer hunts on several WMAs, including the Chaparral WMA in South Texas and the Gus Engeling WMA in East Texas. Department biologists will be conducting a three-year study comparing hunter success among archers and crossbow hunters during these drawn hunts.
Also this year, hunters can apply for special drawn hunts on eight private ranches, one of which offers an opportunity to harvest a mule deer and a white-tailed deer, plus unlimited feral hogs, rabbits and coyotes.
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 pronghorn antelope, 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 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.
Non-refundable application fees for drawn hunts range between $3-10 for each adult applicant 17 years of age or older. Selected hunters pay an additional permit fee of $80 for regular hunts and $130 for extended hunts. There are no application fees or drawn hunt permit fees for youth age 8 to 16.
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. Application fees for the guided hunt packages and private land hunts cost $10 per adult applicant.
Last year TPWD received 44,594 applications for the 5,145 positions offered in special drawn hunt categories.
Information and applications for Special Permit hunts are available on the Public Hunting Web site. Application booklets have been 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.