Frequently Asked Questions
Public Hunting in Texas 2019-2020
What are Public Hunting Lands?
Public hunting lands include property that TPWD owns or leases from various agencies, corporations, and private landowners. Landowners retain full rights to use their property for forest products, agricultural crops, livestock grazing, mineral recovery, water supply, and uses other than hunting on leased public hunting lands.
Remember to respect the rights and property of the landowner and other public users. Your actions will determine the future access of these lands to the public.
What type of permit must I have and what will it allow me to do?
- The Annual Public Hunting (APH) Permit ($48) allows an adult access to designated public hunting lands in the printed booklet and online APH webpages.
- Hunting is allowed for white-tailed deer, feral hogs, exotics, game birds, predators, furbearers, and more without having to pay daily permit fees and in most instances, without having to be selected in a drawing.
- Youth under 17, may accompany and hunt with an adult (18 or older) APH Permit holder free of charge. There is not a restriction on the number of youth an adult may take onto public these hunting lands but safety should be a primary concern.
- A Limited Public Use (LPU) Permit ($12) allows an adult access for fishing (when it is permitted on a unit), camping, birdwatching, hiking, and other recreational activities on designated public hunting lands, but they may not hunt or possess firearms or archery equipment.
The APH and the LPU Permits provides an adult with access to all of the units during the time periods listed in the printed Map Booklet and on these webpages.A permit is not required for:
- youth (under age 17) under the supervision of a permitted adult;
- persons participating in educational programs, management demonstrations, or other scheduled activities for which the permit requirement has been waived by TPWD;
- a non-hunting and non-fishing adult who is assisting a disabled permit holder,
- private property owners/operators utilizing designated roads to cross public hunting lands to travel directly to or from their property; or
- persons who are authorized by, and acting in an official capacity for TPWD or the owners of public hunting lands.
See the rules listed in the Legal Game box on each unit map and the Recreational Visitation Schedule in the Map Booklet on the APH page.
Hunting and Fishing Activity
In order to hunt on any public hunting lands, persons age 17 or older must possess an APH Permit, a hunting license, and any required stamps. Youth (under age 17) are required to have a Texas hunting license but are not required to possess their own permit to hunt or fish however, they must hunt or fish under the supervision of an authorized supervising adult (age 18 or older) who possesses the required permit.
An APH or LPU permit is required to fish from the bank or within the enclosed waters of public hunting lands. The LPU allows for fishing activities on public hunting units that offer fishing. A fishing license is not required to fish from the bank of public waters found in units located within state parks if fishing is permitted.
Horseback Riding Activity
On U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lands and other public hunting units that allow equestrian use, users must possess either an APH Permit or an LPU Permit. See unit map for site specific rules for equestrian use. See the Prohibited Acts pages for more information concerning the use of horses and the requirements for Coggin’s clearances.
How will I be able to locate the public hunting lands?
All units of public hunting lands available for public use under the APH and LPU permits are listed in the printed Map Booklet & online search. Previous years’ Map Booklets and supplements are obsolete. Check the current Annual Public Hunting page for each unit before entering.
If you cannot find a unit in the Map Booklet or on these webpages, then the unit is not a part of the Public Hunting Lands program. If you are still not sure about a unit, call (512) 389-4505 Monday to Friday from 8 am to 5 pm for public hunting information.
The maps in the printed Map Booklet and online search are the only maps of public hunting lands that TPWD provides that indicate the hunting areas and designated roads to which the permit holder has access. Maps purchased from other sources (U.S. Forest Service, COE, etc.) may include private roads that are not included for access by permit holders. Study the maps in closely to avoid trespassing on private property or private roads when accessing, using or leaving public hunting lands. Remember that the public hunting permit authorizes access only to public hunting lands but not to adjacent private property. Ignorance of the law is no excuse or defense should you be charged with trespassing or hunting without landowner permission on private property.
Boundary Markers: Boundaries of most public hunting lands are marked at frequent intervals with signs facing outward and displaying information identifying the property as public hunting lands or a TPWD wildlife management area. If you can see the printed text on the Public Hunting Lands signs or the old Type II boundary signs, you are outside of the Public Hunting Lands. Also, U.S. Forest Service WMA boundaries are identified by yellow metal signs.
Some lands may have been removed from the Public Hunting Program since last season and it is possible that some of the public hunting lands signs may not have been removed. Also, many owners of private property erect similar signs indicating that their land is a “wildlife management area” or “game management area.” It is recommended that you make a preliminary visit to a unit to scout and determine if campsites are adequate for your needs before you arrive for the hunt. Unless you are exempt, you must have your permit with you at any time you are on public hunting lands.
What is On-Site Registration and eOSR?
Some units in this booklet require On-Site Registration (OSR) for entry or participation in certain activities. The OSR requirement is in addition to any other permit which may be needed for hunting or access.
OSR involves signing in at a registration station by filling out the top portion (Part A) of the form and depositing it in the registration box before beginning your activities on the area. The bottom portion (Part B) must be filled out and placed in the registration box before leaving the area. OSR forms are available at registration stations, in the printed map booklet, and online to comply with on-site registration requirements. Photocopies are acceptable if additional forms are needed.
Electronic On-Site Registration is a new smartphone and web app that can be used to perform on-site registration on all dove and small game field and Public Hunting Lands (PHLs). Please note that most WMAs, and State Parks require paper on-Site Registration only. Look for the above badge to determine if your hunt location is eligible.
Is it possible that access to some of the public hunting lands listed may be further restricted during the September 1 to August 31 period for which my permit is valid?
Yes, it is possible, but this seldom occurs. TPWD reserves the right to restrict bag limits or close seasons under emergency conditions if needed to protect wildlife resources. Similarly, access to interior designated roads may at times be closed to protect sensitive areas, reduce littering or trash dumping, prevent wildfires, or to promote safety by directing the public away from hazardous situations. If you encounter a “road closed” sign, barricade or other similar structures indicating closure of a designated road, you should assume that the road is closed for a good reason and cease vehicle travel at that point. Such on-site closures will supersede designated road indications shown in the Map Booklet. As a permit holder, you retain the right to walk into the unit and utilize it for authorized activities although access may temporarily be less convenient. When the reason for the road closure is resolved, roads will reopen for public use.
In very rare instances, a landowner may choose to withdraw lands from the Public Hunting Lands Program before the end of the permit period. This is permitted by the contract under which TPWD has leased these lands. Should such a withdrawal of lands occur, signs will be posted at all major entrance points announcing that the specific parcel of land is no longer within the Public Hunting Lands Program and public access is no longer authorized.
There are also access restrictions on some of the areas during times of Special Permit hunts. Check the individual unit maps for closure dates or restricted access to parts of the public hunting areas.
Is crowding a problem on public hunting lands?
On occasion, crowding may occur on certain units, especially on opening day of the season. By hunting later in the season, or on weekdays rather than on weekends, and by making use of smaller or more remote units, you can generally avoid crowded conditions. Permit holders are reminded that in order to provide participants the freedom to spontaneously choose the time and place of their use of public hunting lands, the possibility of occasional crowding will exist.
Should you encounter crowded conditions on a unit, you are advised to move to a less congested location. Please treat other participants with the respect that you would like to be shown. Remember that the permit is an ANNUAL permit, which allows a variety of public use opportunities on multiple units throughout the year on a first-come, first-served basis.
What are the legal means and methods for taking feral hogs by Annual Public Hunting Permit?
At times when listed as a legal species on a specific unit, feral hogs may be taken with any type of legal firearm and ammunition, legal archery equipment, or crossbow with the following restrictions and provisions:
- The Legal Game box for a specific unit may further restrict the means and methods of taking feral hogs.
- Hunting of feral hogs is restricted to daylight hours only.
- Buckshot may not be used or possessed, unless authorized in the Legal Game box for a specific unit or hunt period.
- Dogs may not be used to hunt feral hogs, except on White Oak Creek (Unit 727); see the unit map for details.
- Baiting of feral hogs is prohibited, unless authorized for a specific unit or hunt period.
- Unless under contract with the department or the cooperating landowner, trapping of feral hogs is prohibited.
- KNOW YOUR TARGET BEFORE SHOOTING
Black bears have been seen on or around some public hunting lands in East and West Texas and can easily be mistaken for a feral hog. Hunters are reminded that black bears are protected and may not be harmed or killed. Please report black bear sightings or mortalities to the appropriate wildlife district office.
What vehicle restrictions are in effect on public hunting lands?
Hunting from a vehicle or the possession of a loaded firearm in or on a motor vehicle is prohibited (see exception provided for holders of a concealed handgun permit). The use of motor vehicles, except as provided for disabled persons, is restricted to designated roads or trails. This regulation reduces potential conflict on these multiple use areas and minimizes habitat damage and wildlife disturbance.
Provisions for Disabled Permit Holders:
- A disabled person or someone directly assisting a disabled person, in possession of a state-issued disabled parking placard or disabled license plate issued to that person, in most cases may drive a motor vehicle directly to the hunt area, except on the USFS units. See “Additional Restrictions in Effect on U.S. Forest Service Units.”
NOTE: Persons directly assisting a disabled person must remain within normal voice distance.
- A disabled person may possess a loaded firearm in or on the motor vehicle only when the motor vehicle is not in motion and the engine is not running.
- A disabled person may hunt from a parked motor vehicle that is not located in or on a designated road, designated vehicle parking area, or designated campground.
- The hunting of migratory game birds from a motor vehicle is further restricted to only paraplegics and single or double amputees of legs.
Access to some of the public hunting units is restricted to designated entry/exit locations. Check individual maps for designated entry/exit locations. It is a violation to trespass onto private property or use private roads without the landowner’s permission.
CAUTION: Flooding and inclement weather may limit the use of designated roads. Please exercise good judgment and avoid travel on muddy roads that would leave deep ruts and further restrict public access.
Temporary road closures, identified by signs or barricades, may be made by the department if current conditions warrant. Although vehicular entry may be limited at times, you may still enter the unit on foot.
ATV and OHV Use:
All persons except qualified disabled persons and those assisting disabled persons operating an off-highway vehicle on public land must purchase and display an off-highway vehicle decal. Decals are available by phone or fax from TPWD and at local retailers, for a list of dealers and further details, see the Texas Off-Highway Vehicle Program. An Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) is defined as an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), off-highway motorcycle, or any other four wheel drive vehicle not registered to be driven on a highway. See DEFINITIONS.
ATV operators must abide by all safety regulations and have completed a state of Texas approved safety training certification class to use an ATV on public hunting lands.
- ATV must display a current OHV decal. OHV requirement has been waived for handicapped individuals.
- ATV operators must take an ATV safety course and carry their ATV safety certificate with them.
- ATV operators MUST WEAR approved helmet and eye protection.
- ATV CANNOT be operated on any public road or road right of way.
- ATVs crossing any public road must do the following: (1) come to a complete stop, (2) head and tail lights must be on, and (3) crossing must be perpendicular to the roadway.
- See Additional Restrictions in Effect on USFS Units.
What restrictions are in place concerning the use of dogs?
Dogs may be used for hunting squirrel, rabbits, hares, fur-bearing animals, predatory animals, and game birds (except turkey) on most units during the open seasons. Use of dogs is not allowed on most State Park hunt areas. See Prohibited Acts for rules and regulations concerning the use of dogs and area maps for further restrictions concerning the use of dogs.
Owners of dogs brought onto Public Hunting Lands must be able to show documentation of current rabies vaccination. Owners are responsible for the actions of their dog and should exercise control of the dog at all times to assure that the activities of other permit holders are not interfered with and that wildlife is not harassed.
Will camping be allowed on public hunting lands?
Camping is limited to primitive campsites only. There are no shelters, toilets, or drinking water available on most units.
Camping for more than 14 consecutive days on the same unit of public hunting lands, or for more than 21 days in any 30-day period is prohibited.
Collection of fallen wood for properly contained campfire use on these units is allowed, however, the cutting of standing trees or the removal of firewood from the units is prohibited.
Leaving refuse, trash, or garbage and littering is prohibited. Littering is one of the worst problems that causes landowners to remove their property from this program. Trash receptacles are not provided, so please take all trash with you upon departure and leave a clean campsite for your next visit.
See Prohibited Acts for more rules on camping.
Does the U.S. Forest Service have different restrictions for hunting on their units that are included in the Annual Public Hunting Program?
Yes, during the general (gun) season, antlerless deer may only be taken on four of the USFS units with a USFS Antlerless Deer Permit. Adults and youth may apply for a permit through TPWD’s Drawn Hunt Program.
The use of motor vehicles, including ATVs and OHVs, on USFS units is more restrictive. All ATV and OHV use is managed on USFS units and not allowed except on designated trails. There are no special riding provisions or exemptions for disabled persons on USFS units. The USFS has created a new Motor Vehicle Use Map for each of their properties. Contact the USFS for the most current map containing roads available for motor vehicle use.
See unit maps and Additional Restrictions in Effect on USFS Units for more information or visit the U.S. Forest Service webpage National Forests and Grasslands in Texas www.fs.usda.gov/texas.