There are very important things to know about hunting in Texas that every hunter should be aware of. Hunting has rules, regulations and licensing requirements that are specific to Texas and to the type of hunting. There are hunting seasons, education requirements, licensing requirements and firearm requirements that each hunter should learn before they go out to hunt.
Texas has specific hunting seasons for most animals that can be hunted in the state. Texas is also divided into counties and hunting zones within each hunting season. Not all counties allow hunting of all animals. Some animals such as the pronghorn antelope can only be hunted with special permits. Migratory birds require a special endorsement on a standard hunting license, and an upland game bird stamp is required to hunt turkey, quail, lesser prairie chicken, pheasant or chachalacas.
In addition to specific dates, hunters are required to hunt only from a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has a website with complete information on all seasons and the counties where specific animals can be hunted. Some animals such as rabbits and hares are considered a nuisance and there is no closed season. A hunter can shoot them any time in any county.
There are strict rules regarding hunting in Texas, and state law requires every hunter under the age of 40 to successfully complete a hunter education course. Hunters can purchase a one-time deferral for this requirement. However, this deferral is good only for the current license year and can only be purchased once. The course is available as a traditional 2-day course, online for 1 day with 1 day of fieldwork or as a home study program, with 1 day of field work. This coursework ensures that all hunters are familiar with the rules regarding where they can hunt, when they can hunt, safety protocols for a variety of hunting situations, first aid, wildlife conservation and gun safety. A final exam is given, and the applicant must receive a score of at least 70% to pass the course. Each student must also show knowledge of safe firing and handling of firearms in the field.
Texas does recognize hunter education courses from other states. Hunters should carry proof of Texas certification when hunting. Once the hunter education has been completed, the certification received is good for life.
Texas hunting licenses are valid for 1 year from September 1 to the following August 31. These licenses can be purchased at one of over 1,600 different vendors or online. Specific locations can be found using the TPWD website. The fees for all hunting licenses go toward hunting and fishing conservation in Texas. Fees vary according to the type of license. For example a resident hunting license is $25 for any hunter between 17 and 65. Senior Resident licenses are $7 and a non-resident general hunting license is $315. Additional stamps may be required for specific animals such as migratory birds. These stamps will require an additional fee.
In addition to a license, each hunter will need a Wildlife Resource Document. This document is required for anyone to possess, give or receive any part of a wildlife resource. For example, a deer hunter will need one to have the deer carcass processed by a butcher. This document lists the name, address, hunting license number and signature of the hunter to identify where the resource came from. It also lists the name of the person receiving the resource, a description of the resource, the date of the kill and the location of the kill. This form is available online at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website.
Firearms are allowed for hunting during the appropriate season. Some seasons are for archery only and other seasons are for musket loader firearms only. During the regular hunting season, hunters can use any firearm except pellet guns or fully automatic firearms. Firearms are not allowed to have silencers or other sound suppressing devices. Shotguns are required when hunting eastern turkey during the spring season or when hunting any migratory bird during any season.
Hunters must also be aware of their surroundings when hunting. It is illegal to shoot across property lines unless the hunter has written permission to hunt on the property. Hunters are also prohibited from hunting with any form of artificial light.
Individuals interested in hunting in Texas should invest in a hunter education certification as soon as possible. Taking the class in Texas will ensure the hunter learns all of the things they will need to know to hunt in Texas.