The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) tag estimator is available to property owners that are interested in at least (possibly) getting involved in TPWD’s Harvest Option in order to receive tags for deer hunting. I know what you’re thinking. Yes, if you buy a Texas hunting license you already receive a pocket full of deer tags, so why consider the Harvest Option for the property you hunt?
What is the MLDP Harvest Option?
If you are familiar with TPWD’s MLDP program of past, the Harvest Option is another addition to the legacy MLD permit program, but does not require property owners to conduct deer surveys or perform habitat management practices. That’s kind of nice.
However, for anyone involved in the Harvest Option it also means that a biologist will not make a formal recommendation for a specific property. Rather, the Harvest Option makes deer harvest recommendations and issues deer tags for any participating property simply by using property boundaries and the plant communities that are found within it.
Why Enroll in the Harvest Option?
So, if the MLDP Harvest Option issues deer hunting tags based on the habitat (and estimated deer population) found on a ranch, how does that help someone with deer management? The option does allow for a much longer hunting season than is normally available to most hunters and it does allow the deer tags to be divided up among the persons hunting the land, whether that be 2 or 20.
In short, it sounds like there is more built-in flexibility with regard to the length of the hunting season length (October- February) and personal bag limits (only limited by the number of deer tags received).
Any property owner wishing to receive white-tailed deer tags for their property, whether it be the Harvest Option or the Conservation Option, must enroll through TPWD’s Land Management Assistance web site. Any property owner can navigate to the site and sign up.
Deer Tag Estimator
Where does the deer tag estimator fit into the equation? Well, if you are not sure you want to participate in the Harvest Option deer tag program you can determine upfront how many tags you will get before you even sign up! The best part is that the MLDP Harvest Option Tag Estimator is actually easy to use.
To start, first you will need to navigate to the tag estimator site. Once there, simply pan the map and zoom into to find your property. The default map view has roadways, towns and cities so it makes it easy to find your way to just about any place in Texas.
Once you zoom in fairly tight, I found it easier to switch over to the satellite view, which you can do by clicking the button at the bottom of the screen. Next, you will need to select a fence option, high fence or low fence.
Mapping with the MLDP Tag Estimator
Click the button that says “Draw Boundary” and then it’s time to map the property. Start on one corner of your property and work your way around clockwise or counter-clockwise, whatever works for you. To end the mapping of your property’s boundary, simply click on the first point and the web site will tell you the size of the mapped acreage.
If the acreage looks good, then you’re in good shape. If the acreage or map is wrong, then you can hit the “Delete” button to simply start over or you can click the “Edit” button and move any of the points that you placed previously. This step is straight forward.
Once the boundary and the mapped acreage looks good then go ahead and click the button that says “Get Estimate” and the site will spit out a breakdown of Any Buck Tags, Unbranched Buck Tags, Antlerless Tags and Total Tags that the property would receive under the MLDP Harvest Option.
Summary: Harvest Option & Tag Estimator
The Harvest Option is just one of the choices under the new MLDP program that TPWD has rolled out for the 2017-18 hunting season. Is it the best fit for you and your property? Only the property owner/hunter/manager can make that call.
The MLDP Harvest Option Tag Estimator was very easy to use, but the number of buck tags I would receive (should I enroll) for the mapped property was more restrictive than I first expected. Not bad, but it does not leave a lot of flexibility in terms of buck harvest, a complete deer management program. On the other hand, the longer season offered by the MLDP Harvest Option is quite attractive from a deer hunting standpoint without much work up front.