2016-2017 White-tailed Deer Seasons & Regulations

Archery Only
All counties with an open season
Oct. 1 - Nov. 4, 2016
General Season
North Zone
Nov. 5, 2016 - Jan. 1, 2017
South Zone
Nov. 5, 2016 - Jan. 15, 2017
North Zone
Oct. 29 - 30, 2016
Jan. 2 - 15, 2017
South Zone
Oct. 29 - 30, 2016
Jan. 2 - 15, 2017
Jan. 2 - 15, 2017
Special Late
North Zone
Jan. 2 - 15, 2017
South Zone
Jan. 16 - 29, 2017


  • A "buck deer" is a deer with a hardened antler protruding through the skin. An "unbranched antlered deer" is a buck with an antler having no more than one antler point. All other deer are antlerless deer. A buck must be tagged with a buck deer tag from the hunter's hunting license or applicable permit.
  • White-tailed Deer - Except for deer taken under MLD permits, no person may take more than five white-tailed deer or more than three bucks (all seasons combined) in one license year. Bag limits in individual counties may be less (see County Listings).
  • Mule Deer - The annual bag limit is two mule deer with no more than one being a buck (all seasons combined). See County Listings for antlerless permit requirements.

Statewide Bag Limits

Except for deer taken under MLD permits, no person may take more than five white-tailed deer or more than three bucks (all seasons combined) in one license year. Bag limits in individual counties may be less.

Special Antler Restrictions

Antler restrictions apply only in certain counties. In these counties, the bag limit is two legal bucks, but only ONE may have an inside spread of 13 inches or greater.  Find your county to determine if there are antler restrictions.

Definition of Legal Buck

In antler restricted counties, a legal buck deer is defined as having:

  • a hardened antler protruding through the skin AND;
  • at least one unbranched antler; OR
  • an inside spread measurement between main beams of 13 inches or greater (does not apply to a buck that has an unbranched antler).

To determine if a buck has an inside spread measurement of at least 13 inches, look at the distance from ear-tip to ear-tip on a buck with ears in the "alert" position.

It is unlawful to take more than one buck with an inside spread of 13 inches or greater in a county where antler restrictions are in effect. Does not apply on Level 2 or 3 MLDP properties.

Definition of a Point

A point is a projection that extends at least one inch from the edge of a main beam or another tine. The tip of the main beam is also a point.

Youth-only Regulations

  • Hunter education requirements apply to all youth hunters.
  • Age Restriction: Only licensed hunters 16 years of age or younger are eligible to participate in youth-only deer seasons. Youth Hunting License required. Hunter education requirements apply (Type 169).
  • Early Youth-Only Season: Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 29 - Oct.30, 2016. All legal hunting means and methods are allowed, except in Collin, Dallas, Grayson and Rockwall counties, where lawful means are restricted to archery only (no crossbows except for youth with upper limb disability).
  • Late Youth-Only Season: Jan. 2-15, 2017. The season is open in all counties where there is a general open season for white-tailed deer. All legal hunting means and methods are allowed, except in Collin, Dallas, Grayson and Rockwall counties, where lawful means are restricted to lawful archery equipment and crossbows.
  • Bag limits, take of antlerless deer, and special requirements:
    • In Delta, Ellis, Falls, Fannin, Franklin, Freestone, Hopkins, Hunt, Kaufman, Limestone, Milam, Navarro, Rains, Smith, Titus, Upshur, Van Zandt and Wood counties, the bag and permit requirements are the same as the period Nov. 24-27, 2016 for each respective county (see County Listings); and
    • For the remainder of the state, the bag and permit requirements are the same as for the first two days of the general season in the county (see County Listings).
    • In a county where antlerless deer may be taken only by permit, a permit is required to take antlerless deer during the youth seasons.
  • Antlerless deer may be taken without a permit on all USFS lands.
  • Does not apply to properties that have Level 3 MLD permits, or in counties where there is no open general season for white-tailed deer.

CWD Check Stations

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal deer disease that has been discovered in white-tailed deer and mule deer in localized portions of Texas. In order to detect and manage this disease, the department has designated CWD zones within which the intact, unfrozen head of any white-tailed or mule deer harvested by a hunter must be presented at a TPWD-designated check station within 24 hours of harvest.

Current CWD zones exist in all or portions of the following counties:

  • Culberson
  • El Paso
  • Hudspeth

See the map of check stations and CWD zones.

The department is considering the designation of additional zones in all or parts of Dallam, Deaf Smith, Hartley, Moore, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, and Sherman counties.

Additional regulations may apply and additional zones may be established without prior notice anywhere in the state upon discovery of CWD. The department will make every effort to publicize the designation and location of CWD zones and check stations, as well as any special regulations that may be adopted following the publication of this notice. For additional or updated information visit the CWD informational page, call any TPWD office or call 1-800-792-1112.

After Killing a Deer

(Also applies to pronghorn, except for License Log)

  • After a deer is killed and before the deer is field dressed or moved, the appropriate hunting license tag or permit (MLDP, LAMPS, etc.) must be immediately filled out and dates cut out (See Tagging a Deer).
  • Additionally, if a hunting license tag is used, then the Hunting License Harvest Log must be legibly completed (see Hunting License Harvest Log for White-tailed Deer).
  • A hunter may transport a deer to a final destination (see Definitions), provided the deer is tagged and proof of sex accompanies the deer (see Proof of Sex).
  • A hunter may skin and quarter a deer (two forequarters, two hindquarters, and two backstraps) and possess for transport, provided the quartered deer is tagged and proof of sex accompanies the deer. (See Cold Storage or Processing Facility for exceptions).
  • A deer may not be processed any further than four quarters and two backstraps (example, steaks, hamburger, chili meat, etc.) until the deer reaches a final destination, except for immediate consumption in camp.
  • The four quarters and two backstraps are the only parts of a deer required by law to be kept in edible condition. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department encourages all hunters to continue to keep other portions of the deer (trimmings from the neck and rib cage) in edible condition. Edible condition does not include any portion of a game animal, game bird, or fish that is: bruised by bullet, shot, or arrow, or otherwise destroyed as a result of harvest; decayed or rotting at the time of harvest; or obviously infected or diseased at the time of harvest.
  • The tag must remain with the portion of a deer the hunter possesses. If any portion is transferred to another person before it reaches a final destination, then the transferred portion must be accompanied by a Wildlife Resource Document. See also Transfer of Wildlife Resources.

Harvest Restrictions 

  • Managed Lands Deer (MLD) Permits: Permits issued to landowners with a TPWD-approved Wildlife Management Plan. MLD permits allow hunters, at the discretion of the landowner or agent, to exceed the county bag limit and (in some cases) to hunt during an extended season. All deer taken on a property for which MLD permits have been issued must be tagged with the appropriate type of MLD permit. NOTE: No license log entry or tag from a hunting license is required for deer killed under a MLD permit (see license log requirement above). For more information about Wildlife Management Plans, landowners should call TPWD at (512) 389-4505.
  •  LAMPS (Landowner Assisted Management Permit System): LAMPS permits allow antlerless deer to be taken in counties where antlerless harvest is by permit only during the entire season or portion of a season. For more information, landowners should contact TPWD at (409) 489-0823 or visit LAMPSAll antlerless deer taken on a LAMPS property must be tagged with a LAMPS permit. This does not include antlerless deer taken during the Archery Only Season or Muzzleloader Only Season. NOTE: No hunting license log or hunting license tag is required for deer killed under a LAMPS permit.
  • For information about antlerless deer permits on National Forest lands, please call the U.S. Forest Service in Lufkin at (936) 639-8501.

Processing in Camp

  • You are allowed to quarter a deer or antelope in camp, but tagging and proof-of-sex requirements continue to apply until the wildlife resource reaches a final destination (see Definitions).
  • Deer or antelope may not be processed beyond quarters in camp unless the camp qualifies as a final destination.
  • While in camp you may remove and prepare a part of a wildlife resource if the removal and preparation occur immediately before the part is cooked or consumed; however, all tagging and proof of sex regulations apply to remaining parts and those parts may be transported to a final destination.