Most of the land in Texas is privately owned but there are some solid public land deer hunting opportunities throughout the state. The majority of the public draw hunts for white-tailed deer are good quality hunts on state-owned properties, many of which are managed for deer and other wildlife. The 2016-17 year offers more opportunities than ever before as additional draw hunts on public and private lands are being consolidated into Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) online application system.
Included in these public lands hunts are hunts for white-tailed and mule deer, pronghorn, exotic ungulate species, turkey, alligator, as well as a guided hunt for desert bighorn sheep and even a new category offer public dove hunting. In addition to drawn hunts managed by TPWD, the other opportunities now includes applications for hunts administered by other agencies, including about 1,500 big game hunt positions on several U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuges in Texas and antlerless deer permits for U.S. Forest Service properties in East Texas.
All hunt opportunities can be viewed by category or by area using an interactive web-based map. In fact, the entire application process is handled online — from browsing opportunities, to applications, fee payments and permit issuance. To participate in Texas’ draw hunts, applicants will need an email address and a credit or debit card.
The first application deadlines are in August, with August 3 being the deadline for alligator hunts and August 11 the deadline for archery deer, exotic, javelina and the new private lands dove hunts. Other hunt category deadlines occur from August 23 through January 26.
Hunters interested in applying for Texas’ public hunts must apply online through TPWD. Hunters can apply up to 11:59 p.m. Central Time on the application deadline, and after the application is submitted, they can check their drawing status online at any time.
The draw hunts program offers affordable public deer hunting in Texas with a good shot at success. Application fees are $3 or $10 depending on the hunt category. Adult hunters that are selected may also need to pay a special permit fee of $80 for regular hunts and $130 for extended hunts. Some categories, such as the youth-only hunts, require no application fees or permit fees at all.