Texas public hunting options bring pastime closer to the masses

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The largest barrier to hunting in our state is the fact that upwards of 95 percent or more of it rests in private hands.

However, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department again is offering services, drawings and permits to make it easier for hunters across the state to gain access to prime hunting locales for a variety of game.

The Hunt Texas Online Connection again invites landowners to list opportunities of all kinds for the average hunter to check out. The department doesn’t endorse or verify the landowners or outfitters who apply to list their lands on the Internet-based service, but that shouldn’t deter anyone without a place to hunt from registering for free and seeing what’s out there. You never know what might pop up, and if you still haven’t lined up a place for the fall, the chances that you’ll find something are drying up fast.

Another way TPWD is attempting to provide hunting opportunities to the public is through its annual drawings for everything from deer and antelope to turkeys and alligators. Roughly 5,000 hunters will be chosen through random drawings for hunts this fall, including those on wildlife management areas, state parks and private ranches, and with application fees ranging from $3 to $10, these are a bargain. The standard period hunt permit if you are chosen has risen to $80, but when you consider you could pay more than 20 times that much just to lease some decent land for one gun, the value shines through.

Hunters who applied for hunts last season will receive booklets and applications at their mailing address, while others may get them by calling 1-800-792-1112.

TPWD also offers a walk-in type hunting program, and the $48 annual public hunting permit offers additional public hunting and outdoor recreational activities on almost 900,000 acres of land. The permit allows hunters to choose from multiple areas to hunt for a variety of critters. Hunters are able to select the time and place to hunt and can use the areas as many times as they want. Hunts available under the annual public hunting permit include for white-tailed deer, feral hogs, doves, waterfowl, turkey, quail, pheasant and other small game.

Another drawing TPWD conducts is its Big Time Texas Hunts, which offers a variety of amazing guided opportunities simply by purchasing $10 drawing entries wherever licenses are sold. The entries also can be bought online for $9. Among the drawings is the Texas Grand Slam, which features hunts for a desert bighorn sheep, a whitetail buck, a pronghorn antelope and a desert mule deer. The deadline to buy entries is Oct. 15.

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