The Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission is set to approve multiple deer hunting regulation changes for 2016-17 at its regular March meeting.
The proposed regulation changes include:
- Elimination of the antlerless and spike-buck control permit
- Replacing the special late antlerless and spike-buck season and defining an unbranched antlered deer
- Implementing an archery-only and general white-tailed deer season in 14 counties
- Expanding doe days for white-tailed deer in 23 counties
- Implementing a muzzleloader season in 32 counties
- Altering antlerless deer permit requirements on U.S. Forest Service lands during youth-only season
Here is more background on the proposed deer regulation changes:
- The ADCP allows the harvest of antlerless and spike-buck deer from September 1 through the end of February. Demand for the permit has steadily declined since 2004 and for the last four years the Department has only issued 4 ADC permits in each year. Changes to the Managed Lands Deer Program that extended the season and removed the need for bonus tags encouraged the vast majority of ADCP permittees to utilize the MLDP program to meet their deer management needs. Additionally, eliminating the ADCP will remove additional expenditures that would be needed to incorporate the ADCP permit issuance process into the redesign of the Texas Wildlife Information Management System.
- Considerable confusion arises among hunters, landowners, and others of the definition of a legal buck during the late antlerless and spike-buck season in antler restriction counties. Currently, one of the legal bucks that may be harvested in an antler restriction county during the general season is a buck with at least one unbranched antler. However, during the special late antlerless and spike season only a buck with spike antlers (two unbranched antlers) may be harvested. Switching definition of a legal buck between the general and late season is confusing to hunters. The proposed change would remove confusion of what a legal buck is during the Special Late season.
- Staff propose to implement a white-tailed deer season in Andrews, Bailey, Castro, Cochran, Gaines, Hale, Hockley, Lamb, Lubbock, Lynn, Parmer, Terry and Yoakum counties, with a bag limit of three deer (no more than one buck and no more than two antlerless), which is identical to adjoining/nearby counties that currently have a season. The proposed change would also implement both a general and special archery-only season for white-tailed deer in Winkler County, with a bag limit of three deer (no more than one buck and no more than two antlerless, with the take of antlerless deer restricted to MLD Permit only).
- Staff is proposing to expand the number of doe days when antlerless deer may be taken without a permit in certain counties in the eastern portion of the state. In Bell (east of I-35), Burleson, Ellis, Falls, Freestone, Kaufman, Limestone, Milam, Navarro and Williamson (East of I-35) counties does days would be expanded from zero to 4 days. In Anderson, Brazos, Camp, Gregg, Grimes, Henderson, Lamar, Leon, Madison, Morris, Red River, Robertson, and Upshur counties does days would be expand from four to sixteen doe days.
- Staff are proposing to implement a muzzleloader-only late season in Anderson, Bell (East of IH 35), Brazos, Burleson, Comal (East of IH 35), Delta, Ellis, Fannin, Falls, Franklin, Freestone, Grimes, Hays (East of IH 35), Henderson, Hopkins, Hunt, Kaufman, Lamar, Leon, Limestone, Madison, Milam, Navarro, Rains, Red River, Robertson, Smith, Titus, Travis (East of IH 35), Van Zandt, Williamson (East of IH 35) and Wood counties.
- Staff have received several request from the U.S. Forest Service to allow youth to harvest antlerless deer without a permit during the youth-only seasons on USFS lands. Under current regulation an antlerless deer permit is required to harvest and antlerless deer on certain USFS lands during any season in portions of East Texas. The USFS is not able to utilize some of the antlerless deer permit programs including LAMPS and MLDP because of program requirements. Both TPWD staff and USFS would like to encourage youth hunting and providing additional youth-hunting opportunities on USFS land by allowing youth to harvest antlerless deer without a permit during the youth-only season.