It’s August, which for hunters and anglers means anteing up and providing the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with much-needed revenue.
Texas hunting and fishing licenses expire Aug. 31 with the exception of year-to-date licenses, and licenses for 2013-14 seasons go on sale beginning Thursday. With the prospect of solid dove and deer seasons, along with no shortage of good angling opportunities, this again will be a year when TPWD issues more than 2 million hunting and fishing 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 look at some questions that will help aid your pursuit of the license tailored to your needs.
Q: Where can I buy a hunting and fishing license?
A: TPWD issues hunting and fishing licenses through its 28 field offices, 58 state parks and more than 1,600 retailers. The agency also issues licenses through its website (www.tpwd.state.tx.us) and by phone at 800-895-4248, charging a $5 convenience fee for these options.
Q: Is there a license that includes everything I need to hunt and fish across the state?
A: Mostly. 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 fresh water and saltwater, and includes an oversize red drum tag. The federal duck stamp ($15) 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.
— Will Leschper (@TXOutdoorDigest) August 13, 2013
Q: How do I show proof that I completed a hunter education course?
A: Hunter education certification is required of any hunter born on or after Sept. 2, 1971, and who is at least 17 years old. 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.166). 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 to make sure I have 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. Even though there are electronic prompts in the process, if a sales associate doesn’t ask make it a point to remind them.
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 actually 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 still 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 from your license.
Q: Do active-duty military members and disabled veterans receive free licenses?
A: Yes. Texas residents on active duty in the U.S. 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.
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.
For more information, pick up the Texas Outdoor Annual, a digest of state hunting and fishing regulations, including seasons and bag limits, wherever licenses are sold, or view it online on the TPWD website.