Here’s your guide to Texas hunting, fishing licenses

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Hunters pursuing sandhill cranes in Texas must possess a special federal permit that can be obtained at Texas Parks & Wildlife Department field offices.

Texas hunters and anglers make a pilgrimage this time of year to their local sporting goods stores, hoping to beat the rush before September dove hunts and picking up plenty of gear along the way.

Texas habitat conservation organizations greatly thank you and urge you to again remember that 100 percent of revenue from license sales goes back into hunting, fishing and conservation programs. And accordingly, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department again is hoping for brisk sales, which again are expected to surpass 2 million total licenses in a state that features a multi-billion-dollar outdoors industry.

Texas hunting and fishing licenses from the most recent seasons expire Aug. 31 with the exception of year-to-date licenses, and licenses for 2016-17 frameworks are on sale now.

It should be noted that 100 percent of revenue from license sales goes back into hunting, fishing and conservation programs, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department again is hoping for brisk sales, which again are expected to surpass 2 million total licenses.

Purchasing a license is a relatively simple process but it’s one that involves knowing some specifics, including buying early to avoid the Sept. 1 rush coinciding with the opening of dove season across most of the state. With that in mind, here’s a guide that will help aid your pursuit of the license tailored to your needs, and other pertinent information.

Q: Is there a license that includes everything I need to hunt and fish across the state?

A: Almost. The super-combo license ($68) includes the upland and migratory game bird endorsements and the archery endorsement, and tags for white-tailed deer, mule deer and turkeys. It also allows the holder to fish in freshwater and saltwater, and includes an oversize red drum tag. The federal duck stamp ($25) that allows hunters to pursue waterfowl is the lone stamp not included in the super combo. Resident hunters and anglers over age 65 may purchase a super combo license for $32.

Q: How do I show proof that I completed a hunter education course?

A: Hunter education certification is required of any hunter (including those from other states) born on or after Sept. 2, 1971, and who is at least 17. For those unable to pass a course before seasons start, TPWD offers a deferral that allows hunters 17 or older a one-time extension to complete the requirement. These hunters must purchase a license and then buy the $10 deferral (option No. 135). The extension is valid for a year and hunters using the deferral must be accompanied by someone 17 or older who is licensed to hunt in Texas. If you have completed the course, your license will include a number under your information (ex. HE#123456).

Q: What is HIP certification and why do I need it?

A: The Harvest Information Program questions asked of hunters buying a license who plan to pursue doves and waterfowl are federally mandated and are designed to aid in the development of proper harvest estimates, season dates and regulations. This certification is free but it is up to you to make sure you are asked the proper questions about how many migratory game birds you harvested last season and that it shows up on your license.

Q: Is there a license for public hunting?

A: Hunters must possess a valid hunting license and corresponding endorsements to hunt on public lands. TPWD does offer an annual public hunting permit for $48 that allows its holder access to designated public areas for hunting doves, deer, turkey and other critters without having to be selected in the public drawings for most other hunts. The permit holder may take youths younger than 17 hunting for free on the designated public lands.

Q: Do you need a license to lease out land for hunting?

A: Yes. TPWD offers three hunting lease license. The first, $79, is for leases as large as 499 acres. The second, $147, if for leases that are 500 to 999 acres. The final one, $252, is for any lease that’s 1,000 acres or larger.

These are required of a landowner or landowner’s agent who leases hunting rights to another person on property they own or control for pay or other consideration, according to TPWD.

Q: I plan to hunt turkeys, quail, pheasants and doves. At first glance, the license I bought doesn’t have the proper “stamps.” Where are they?

A: The upland and migratory game bird stamps ($7 each) are not like the federal duck stamp, a separate item you must stick on the back of your license. TPWD still uses stamp lingo from the past, but the upland and migratory endorsements are printed on your license. Always double-check any license you purchase for correct identification and hunting information before leaving a store and certainly before heading afield.

Q: I bought a license online and received a confirmation number but have not received the official document. Can I go hunting?

A: A confirmation number is sufficient proof if you are checked by a game warden while dove hunting. However, that confirmation number obviously will not allow you to harvest any wildlife or fish that requires a tag.

Q: Do active-duty military members and disabled veterans receive free licenses?

A: Yes. Texas residents on active duty in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, Reserves or National or State Guard are eligible for a free super combo license (Type 510). Those eligible must provide service records indicating the person’s home of record is in Texas or that the person’s duty station for the six months prior to the time of application is in Texas.

Disabled veterans also qualify for a super combo (Type 502). For this purpose, disabled veteran means a person with a service-connected disability, as defined by the Veterans Administration, consisting of the loss of the use of a foot or leg, or a disability rating of 60 percent or more, and who is receiving compensation for the disability. Official proof of disability as issued by the VA must be shown when applying for this license and must state the rate of disability.

Q: Should I buy a lifetime hunting and fishing license?

A: Maybe. The lifetime resident super combo license is $1,800, which resulted from a 2009 alteration to license charges. Anglers previously could buy a lifetime fishing license for $600, while the super combo lifetime license was $1,000. The lifetime hunting and fishing licenses are now each $1,000, but if you buy one you can pay $800 to upgrade your purchase to the all-inclusive license.

These purchases are available only at TPWD headquarters in Austin and the agency’s other law enforcement offices. If you plan on hunting and fishing Texas for the next three decades or longer, you definitely should buy one. The break-even point when buying the regular super combo license vs. the lifetime version is about 26½ years.

Q: Do I need a permit to hunt sandhill cranes?

A: Yes. The permit is free but must be obtained during business hours at any of the TPWD law enforcement offices or at TPWD headquarters in Austin. The permit may be obtained online for a $5 transaction fee after hours. The change came about when game bird program managers discovered that almost 125,000 crane permits were issued electronically, a huge jump from about 12,000 per season in the 1990s when paper permits were issued. That discrepancy made the tracking process useless for management purposes because most hunters who received the permit weren’t hunting cranes.

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