TPWD Adopts New Deer Hunting Regulations

An important part of any ranch’s deer management program is informed and proper harvest. Without sufficient population data, improper white-tailed deer harvest is inevitable, and management objectives will never come to fruition. Managing proper harvest often means managing deer hunters.

At the big ranch called Texas, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has adopted a series of hunting regulations that expand special buck antler restrictions and liberalize doe harvest opportunities in dozens of Texas counties. The new rules take effect during the 2009-10 hunting seasons.

Citing strong support for the changes during the public comment period, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff said the new regulations reflect a shift toward biologically-based communities for managing deer populations. One of the biggest changes involves further expansion of the department’s successful antler restriction regulations into 52 additional counties where biologists have identified a need to provide greater protection of younger buck deer.

Texas gets new Deer Hunting Regulations

According to Clayton Wolf, TPWD big game program director, the antler restrictions have significantly improved age structure while maintaining ample hunting opportunity, based on data to date in the 61 counties where the rule is currently in effect. New counties under the antler restrictions regulation this fall include: Anderson, Angelina, Archer, Atascosa, Brazos, Brown, Chambers, Clay, Cooke, Denton, Ellis, Falls, Freestone, Grayson, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Henderson, Hill, Hood, Hunt, Jack, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Liberty, Limestone, Madison, McLennan, Milam, Mills, Montague, Montgomery, Navarro, Newton, Orange, Palo Pinto, Parker, Polk, Robertson, San Jacinto, Smith, Stephens, Tarrant, Trinity, Tyler, Van Zandt, Walker, Wichita, Wise, and Young.


In addition, the department got overwhelming support to increase whitetail bag limits in several areas of the state with growing deer numbers or populations sufficient to support additional hunting opportunity. The department is increasing the bag limit in most Cross Timbers and Prairies and eastern Rolling Plains counties from three deer (no more than one buck, no more than two antlerless) or four deer (no more than two bucks and no more than two antlerless) to five deer (no more than 2 bucks).

Counties affected include: Archer, Baylor, Bell (West of IH35), Bosque, Callahan, Clay, Coryell, Hamilton, Haskell, Hill, Jack, Jones, Knox, Lampasas, McLennan, Palo Pinto, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Taylor, Throckmorton, Wichita, Wilbarger, Williamson (west of IH35), and Young.

The department is increasing the bag limit from four deer to five deer in Pecos, Terrell, and Upton counties. The justification for this change is that white-tailed deer densities throughout the eastern Trans-Pecos are very similar to densities on the Edwards Plateau, where current rules allow the harvest of up to five antlerless deer.

Another change increases the bag limit from three deer to five deer (no more than one buck) in selected counties in the western Rolling Plains. Counties affected include: Armstrong, Briscoe, Carson, Childress, Collingsworth, Cottle, Crosby, Dickens, Donley, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hall, Hardeman, Hemphill, Hutchinson, Kent, King, Lipscomb, Motley, Ochiltree, Roberts, Scurry, Stonewall, and Wheeler.

The department also extended whitetail hunting from 16 days to the full general open season in Dawson, Deaf Smith, and Martin counties (three deer, no more than one buck, no more than two antlerless). Increased deer estimates equate to longer and more liberal deer hunting seasons.

Areas of the state having sufficient doe populations that warrant additional hunting opportunity will be getting more doe days this fall: from 16 days to full-season either-sex in Dallam, Denton, Hartley, Moore, Oldham, Potter, Sherman and Tarrant counties; from 30 days to full-season either-sex in Cooke, Hardeman, Hill, Johnson, Wichita, and Wilbarger counties; from four days to 16 days in Bowie and Rusk counties; from four days to 30 days in Cherokee and Houston counties; from no doe days to four doe days in Anderson, Henderson, Hunt, Leon, Rains, Smith, and Van Zandt counties.

The department is also expanding the late antlerless and spike season into additional counties. Counties affected include: Archer, Armstrong, Baylor, Bell (West of IH35), Bosque, Briscoe, Callahan, Carson, Childress, Clay, Collingsworth, Comanche, Cooke, Coryell, Cottle, Crosby, Denton, Dickens, Donley, Eastland, Erath, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hall, Hamilton, Hardeman, Haskell, Hemphill, Hill, Hood, Hutchinson, Jack, Johnson, Jones, Kent, King, Knox, Lampasas, Lipscomb, McLennan, Montague, Motley, Ochiltree, Palo Pinto, Parker, Pecos, Roberts, Scurry, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Stonewall, Tarrant, Taylor, Terrell, Throckmorton, Upton, Wheeler, Wichita, Wilbarger, Williamson (West of IH35), Wise, and Young. In Pecos, Terrell, and Upton counties, the season would replace the current muzzleloader-only open season.

In East Texas, the department is establishing a special muzzleloader season in additional counties, lengthening the existing muzzleloader season by five days to be equivalent in length with the special antlerless and spike buck seasons in other counties, and altering the current muzzleloader bag composition to allow the harvest of any buck (not just spike bucks) and antlerless deer without permits if the county has “doe days” during the general season.

New counties affected include: Austin, Bastrop, Bowie, Brazoria, Caldwell, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Colorado, De Witt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Goliad (North of HWY 59), Goliad (South of HWY 59), Gonzales, Gregg, Guadalupe, Harrison, Houston, Jackson (North of HWY 59), Jackson (South of HWY 59), Karnes, Lavaca, Lee, Marion, Matagorda, Morris, Nacogdoches, Panola, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Upshur, Victoria (North of HWY 59), Victoria (South of HWY 59), Waller, Washington, Wharton (North of HWY 59), Wharton (South of HWY 59), and Wilson.

TPWD also added one additional weekend and 10 additional weekdays in January to the current youth-only deer season. They also established a one buck only, antlerless by permit, nine-day mule deer season for Parmer County — the first ever deer season for that county.In other action, the commission approved a temporary, indefinite suspension of the current lesser prairie chicken two-day season in October until population recovery supports a resumption of hunting.

With all the changes, TPWD is encouraging hunters to check the Outdoor Annual of hunting and fishing regulations for county and species specific rules before going afield this fall. The annual will be available online and wherever hunting licenses are sold beginning August 15.


11 Replies to “TPWD Adopts New Deer Hunting Regulations”

  1. The new laws passed by TPWD have absolutely nothing to do with managing game populations, period. It is all about money and the pursuit of. The revenue generated from selling additional hunting licenses, fees for processing, taxidermy costs, firearm sales, etc., etc. either directly or indirectly trickle back to the source of such laws. There is no doubt that money is the driving force behind all TPWD decisions. Whitetail deer population surveys, sure let me guess, they are based on random surveys of hunters willing to openly disclose what was harvested on public land. Private land owners, on the other hand, regardless of what their deer population are, are forced to choke down such laws. It is nice to see that big business has now completely taken over the wildlife in Texas, as well. Pathetic TPWD!

  2. Morgan, TPWD biologist conduct whitetail population surveys on both public and private lands on a regular basis. Regulations are science-based as part of sound wildlife management practices and have nothing to do with money, etc. Following your attempt at logic, what if the state increased limits when the populations didn’t justify doing so? That would result in poor hunting in the long term which by your line of thinking would by a financial disaster. Think.

  3. Avian, Your silly attempt at “logic” amazes me. So, the crossbow inclusion into the archery season this year had nothing to do with MONEY? Ding. Ding. Gazillions of tax and new license fees? Did the law rescinding “all steel” broadheads have nothing to do with MONEY? Wasp and Savora broadheads paid for that.

    Did not Rick Perry rescind the 40# minumum bow weight because the Rock Star Ted Neugent paid him to do so after his wife published an article of her “illegal” deer kill with a 37# bow in Texas Trophy Hunter Magazine?

    Morgan is quite right… The TPWD is only interested in MONEY. Game conservation be damned, if they can make a buck, or sell one. That’s why I have to pay $25 for a license to kill a deer on my OWN property, on which I have to control the predators and feed the deer all year, at MY great expense.

    There has not been a “biologist” out in my end Burleson County for the last 30 years that I have lived on this property. They are all playing games on computers in the office. Get a life.

    There are about 300 Wardens in the field and about 3,000 goobers in the office with neck ties. Texas had much better whitetail deer populations when the County Commissioners made the game laws. You are the one that needs to think.

    Respects, Terry

  4. I THINK THAT TERRY HAS HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE WEALTHY HUNTING LEASEES STOPPING US LITTLE GUYS FROM KILLING SMALLER DEER. I SAW A MONSTER IN ANY HUNTERS EYES THIS MORNING, BUT HIS HORNS WENT STRAIGHT UP (PROBABLY 18 INCHES UP, WITH AT LEAST 8 POINTS, WITH 4 INCH BASES) AND HE WAS ONLY 15 YARDS FROM ME. WHAT DOES 13 INCHES WIDE HAVE TO DO WITH AGE?

    WE ALSO HAVE A DEER ON OUR LEASE THAT WE KNOW IS 4 YEARS OLD THAT NOW HAS 11 POINTS, BUT ONE OF THEM HAS GROWN STRAIGHT UP HIS ENTIRE LIFE. WE CALL HIM TRIPOD BECAUSE HE HAS ONE LEG THAT WILL NOT STRAIGHTEN OUT. FOR THE FIRST 2 YEARS HE WAS JUST A SPIKE WITH ONE HORN GROWING DOWN BY HIS EYE, THAT HORN IS NOW A DROP TINE, BUT HE WILL NEVER BE 13 INCHES WIDE. WHAT A SHAME THAT HE WILL PROBABLY JUST DIE OF OLD AGE OR COYOTES JUST BECAUSE HIS HORNS ARE NOT WIDE.

  5. I think the regulations are because there are more and more hunters every year. We are losing habitat because of the increased number of people (building houses, overgrazing, etc), but that also means more people hunting deer that are forced to live in an areas that are getting smaller or have poor habitat. You can only expect every type of hunting and fishing regulation to get more restrictive over time. If the human population increases by 50 or 100 percent, does that still entitle every hunter to shoot a buck? Maybe the deer population can’t support that?

  6. TPW has done little as far a deer populations. You only have created more red tape and tons of regulations on hunters. I get checked at least 3 or 4 times a year by game wardens and have ever been issued a citation.

    Houston has expanded into Conroe and all the housing developments have forced deer on to the highways, into peoples back yards, and into the national forest. I had seen over 6 acres of hardwoods cut down because of your regulations, and at a TPW meeting, one of your representatives said the wood peckers needed flying room!

    There are hardly any squirrels in the forest and where are the turkeys? Very few acorn trees now, but a lot of pine trees to make money harvesting.

    So what do the deer eat; they feed off private lands. What does TPW do? More regulations! I have been reading your regulations for two days and it’s beginning to look like Obama care.

  7. Steven, yes, a spike is a buck, it counts as a buck and you must tag it with a buck tag. You must also fill out the hunting log on the back of your hunting license. Only two types of bucks can be shot in Ellis County, those with an unbranched antler (spike on at least one side) and bucks with an inside spread between the main beams of at least 13 inches.

    Hunters can shoot two bucks, but only one can be greater than 13 inches, or you can shoot two unbranched antler bucks.

  8. All I know is after hunting two different MDL lease’s, this year being the second, I’m not seeing near as many dear and paying a lot more for a lease. Its obvious we don’t care about hunters teaching their kids to hunt. When they don’t EVER see anything they don’t want to come back. Won’t be long and hunter’s will be gone and hunting will be a dead sport, then what?

  9. James, I don’t know that it’s entirely up to any state or federal agency to get your kids involved in hunting. I think it is the responsibility of the hunting parent to decide when and where to introduce their kids to the sport. Some situations are better than others. I agree, it might not be the best idea to put a kid in a highly managed deer lease situation. I think most properties are the opposite of that. This is just my opinion here, but hunting is not just about killing something. There is all the preparation, build up and being part of a hunting family and lifestyle. Youth that ultimately take to hunting, not just the ones that are thrown in a stand, shoot a deer, and get instant gratification, realize that not every trip ends up with a buck on the ground, ear-to-ear grins and photos to share. Parents have to make sure they do it right, but I understand what you’re saying.

  10. Buck manager,
    I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s up to us as parents, to teach our children how to enjoy nature and hunting and to respect it. I take both of my children each time I go out to our place. I rarely shoot anything and they still are both dying to go spend time in the woods with their dad. Frankly could care less if we do bag a deer. My six year old still tells his friends about the time dad almost shot a buck. “He even took it off safety, but it wasn’t old enough so we passed on it” the important word there is “we”. I urge more parents to take their children out and teach them it’s not just about shooting something, it’s a memory and lesson everytime they will take with them about respecting what God has given us.

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