Harvest Option: Deer Management Program

Details of the Harvest Option and Conservation Option “arms” of the soon-to-be-changing Managed Lands Deer Permit (MLDP) Program were released by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).  The changes are said to be in effect in 2017, which should mean the 2017-18 white-tailed deer hunting season.

For those unfamiliar with the MLDP Program, the program is intended to help land owners interested in deer population and habitat management. Historically, the MLDP program offered incentives to landowners willing to implement deer habitat management practices on their lands in exchange for property-specific deer harvest recommendations and longer hunting seasons.

The new and improved MLDP program looks to contain two components, the Harvest Option and the Conservation Option. The Conservation Option appears to operate much like the MLD Permit program of the past, with the Harvest Option having fewer obligations on the part of the property owner.

Harvest Option for White-tailed Deer

The Harvest Option is a completely automated version of MLDP that provides landowners with a deer harvest recommendation, tag issuance, and general correspondence about wildlife and habitat management. Administration of the Harvest Option will be conducted through TWIMS and does not require a wildlife management plan, habitat management practices, deer population data, or the participant to receive technical assistance from a TPWD wildlife biologist.

This provides enhanced harvest opportunities through longer seasons and bag limits with minimal involvement from TPWD. Although, individuals participating in the Harvest Option may still request to receive technical guidance from a TPWD biologist through our technical guidance program with MLDP deer harvest recommendations and tag issuance being automated and not customizable.

Requirements, Deadline for Harvest Option

An online application must be completed by applicant in TWIMS. Prior to completing enrollment, applicant will be able to preview tag issuance to decide whether to participate in the Harvest Option. Deadline to apply for the Harvest Option is September 1.

Aggregate Acreage Enrollment

TPWD will allow multiple landowners to combine contiguous tracts of land to create an aggregate acreage for program enrollment. A single program participant must be designated to receive MLDP tags and they may be used on any property within the aggregate acreage during the MLDP deer hunting season.

Under the Harvest Option of the MLDP Program, property owners will have to make some choices with regard to tag issuance. Tags are only to be issued for white-tailed deer, but program participants may choose a harvest recommendation and tag issuance for:

  • Only buck deer
  • Only antlerless deer or
  • Buck and antlerless deer

Note: Any deer harvested on the property for which MLDP tags have not been issued must be tagged with an appropriate hunting license tag and recorded on the hunting license log, and county seasons and bag limits apply.

How are Tags Issued?

Tag issuance for the Harvest Option will be determined through TWIMS and will take into account TPWD deer population estimates for a specific deer monitoring unit, information regarding the property such as acreage, types and amounts of habitat types, fencing, whether deer have been liberated onto the enrolled property, and other information deemed relevant by the Department.

TPWD biologists will not be able to adjust or customize an individual harvest recommendation for a property.

Harvest Option Season Dates

Antlerless Deer

  • Saturday closest to September 30 through the last day of February.
  • Harvest allowed by any lawful means, including modern firearm.

Buck Harvest

  • Saturday closest to September 30 for 35 consecutive days.
    • Any buck may be harvested with lawful archery equipment.
    • Any buck with at least one unbranched antler may be harvested by any lawful means, including modern firearm.
  • First Saturday in November through the last day of February.
    • Any buck may be harvested by any lawful means, including modern firearm.

Reporting Requirements

Participating property owners in either the Harvest or Conservation Option will be required to report the number of buck and antlerless deer harvested each season. Those in the Conservation Option will be required to report the habitat management practices conducted on the property each year, but this will not be a requirement for properties enrolled in the Harvest Option.

All reporting of required information is to be completed electronically in TWIMS and is the responsibility of the landowner or landowner’s designated agent to insure data is reported by the deadline. The deadline for reporting required information is April 1.

Harvest Option Tag Issuance

The new MLDP program will shake things up, so to speak, with regards to tag issuance. In the past, tags were received through the mail. The new “print your own tag” system will be utilized with the new options where a PDF file of the permits will be emailed to participants who will then print out MLDP tags for the current deer hunting season.

Harvest Logs

Program participants under both options are required to maintain a TPWD-approved daily harvest log on the property enrolled in MLDP because of the new “print your own tag” system. The harvest log must be maintained for the property through the end of MLDP hunting season.

A hunter harvesting and tagging a deer under the authority of MLDP must enter appropriate information, such as date of kill, species, sex, MLDP tag number, hunter name, hunting or driver’s license number of hunter, into the harvest log on the same day of harvest.

Additionally, the harvest log may satisfy the cold storage and processing facility record book provided certain information is included in the harvest log and is retained on the property for 1 year following date of the last harvest entry.

Learn about the Conservation Option deer management program in Texas.

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