Big Lake Bottom WMA

Phone: (903) 928-2251
16149 N US HWY 287
Tennessee Colony, TX 75861

Contact: Kyle Hand

Dates Open:

Registration is required.

Open year round, except closed for Special Permit Hunts.

Big Lake Bottom WMA will be closed September 25 though December 28, 2023 and March 1 through April 22, 2024.


Big Lake Bottom WMA
Big Lake Bottom WMA (BLBWMA) lies adjacent to the Trinity River and is located about 10 miles southwest of Palestine, Texas in Anderson County. The WMA was purchased beginning in 1990 in an effort to preserve a relict tract of quality bottomland hardwood habitat which is rapidly disappearing in the Post Oak Savannah Ecoregion of Texas. Texas has lost over half of its wetlands which include bottomland hardwoods and riparian corridors. Additional tracts of land have been acquired as mitigation for habitat losses from a sand and gravel company or purchased giving the WMA approximately 3,894 acres of land. Until 2009, the WMA encompassed Big Lake and most of the shoreline within its boundaries. Although Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) no longer owns the lake the WMA retains the name “Big Lake Bottom.” The Texas Department of Corrections has constructed several prison facilities to the north and adjacent to the WMA while other properties adjacent are either owned and hunted or leased to hunters. BLBWMA lies almost completely within the Trinity River floodplain and carries topography, soil types, and vegetation characteristics of alluvial major flood plain. As a result of the flat terrain the area often times is covered in shallow, slow moving floodwaters, five to 60 days a year. The area is normally inaccessible several times a year for extended periods due to high water or wet soil conditions.


Historical human use around and including the WMA has been primarily for beef cattle production although commercial production of timber has been a minor agricultural use. Much of the pine and hardwood timber in the area has been logged within the past 50 years but some large stands of hardwood re-growth and isolated older trees remain. The previous owner of Big Lake Bottom did not harvest the timber but leased the property to hunters. White-tailed deer were the primary species hunted with squirrel, hogs, and waterfowl being hunted to a lesser degree. Eastern Wild Turkeys were unsuccessfully stocked on neighboring land in 1990 and 1996. The few upland transitional areas on the WMA provide proper habitat for turkey although there have been no recent documented sightings. Until additional habitat in adjacent uplands is managed for turkey there are no future plans for turkey releases. Mans limited alteration of BLBWMA preserved the high quality bottomland hardwood habitat for Texans today.


BLBWMA was purchased to protect and enhance bottomland hardwood habitats and its associated flora and fauna through development and management of habitat, populations of native wildlife species, and the cultural and archeological resources. The management area will be used for hunting, fishing, non-consumptive recreational activities, and to facilitate research investigations and demonstrations in a manner compatible with the protection and management of the resources. In the future, TPWD will increase management practices such as moist soil management, mechanical brush control, and regulated hunting as well as provide a research site for trained wildlife biologists.

Natural Resources (Flora/Fauna)

BLBWMA lies within the Post Oak Savannah Ecoregion and is representative of a bottomland hardwood habitat type. Soils are poorly drained black Kaufman clay, a common soil type in areas that are unprotected from floodwaters often referred to as “black gumbo mud.” Although 90% of BLBWMA is characterized as bottomland hardwood forest, the vegetative communities and total habitat qualities differ depending on specific locals within the management area. The primary vegetation type is Water Oak-Elm-Hackberry Forest. Dominant vegetative overstory is comprised of overcup oak, sugar hackberry, hickory, willow oak, water oak, cedar elm, water elm, and green ash. Bur Oak, southern red oak, post oak, and woollybucket bumelia are common on the few upland terraces. Major understory species include eastern redbud, possum-haw holly, greenbrier, poison oak, rough leaf dogwood, grape, and American beautyberry. The vegetative ground cover is dominated with sumpweed, poison oak, dewberry, rushes, sedges, and flatsedges. Where grasses occur they include panicums, paspalums, and woodoats. Most of the forbs present are annuals and include giant ragweed, goldenrod, wild petunia, and camphor weed.

Nutrition for wildlife is high during the fall months as a result of the abundant mast crops provided by the mature bur and overcup oaks. The abundance of acorns and the tract’s low elevation also create excellent migratory waterfowl feeding areas during the fall and winter months. Mallards and wood ducks feed among the abundant acorns. This area also has interspersed open areas. As a result of open areas, this tract possesses a great diversity and amount of ground vegetation. Game such as white-tailed deer, squirrels, feral hogs, rabbits, mallards and wood ducks are common on the WMA. Observant visitors may also see bobcats, skunks, coyotes, armadillos, painted buntings, indigo buntings, white-eyed vireos, and pileated woodpeckers. Species such as the Wood Stork, Alligator Snapping Turtle, and Timber Rattlesnake are all listed as possibly occurring on the management area, and are listed as state threatened.

Cultural Resources

No historical structures, pictographs, middens, or cemeteries are known to exist on BLBWMA. The Antiquities Code of Texas (Title 9, Chapter 191 of the Texas Natural Resources Code of 1977) calls for the location and protection of all archeological sites owned by the state of Texas. Any violation of the terms of the Antiquities Code is a criminal act, punishable by a fine and/or jail term.

Research Activities

A critical function of BLBWMA is to provide site for research on wildlife populations and habitat to be conducted. Biologists hope to gain knowledge and understanding of management techniques to help make sound recommendations for land managers/owners.

Recreational Opportunities

Hunters interested in waterfowl, small game, and feral hogs need only possess an APH Permit and valid hunting license to gain access on designated days during the appropriate season. Deer hunters, both archery and gun, are randomly selected during the Special Permit drawing to avoid over harvesting of the resource.

Visitors may enjoy birding, hiking, photography, or camping at BLBWMA. There are no roads so access is limited to foot traffic. ATVs are only allowed for hunters selected on the Special Permit hunts. Visitors 17 years of age and older must possess either an AnnualPublic Hunting Permit (APH) or Limited Public Use (LPU) Permit to utilize the WMA. These permits are available at all license sale locations in Texas or by calling 1-800 TXLIC4U (895-4248). Permits are not for sale at the WMA.

Please Note
  • All users must perform daily on-site registration.
  • Entry is restricted to designated entry points only.
  • Caution should be taken since area is often muddy or under water.
  • Bring your own drinking water.
  • Insecticide and sunscreen are recommended.