TPWD Proposing More Eastern Turkey Hunting

Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701,

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AUSTIN, Texas – Turkey hunters in East Texas could be looking at a month-long spring season and opportunities in additional counties beginning in 2005 if proposals by state wildlife biologists pass muster.

The recommendation by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to double the season length for eastern turkeys to 30 days with an April 1 opener marks another milestone in the state’s successful effort to restore the wild turkey on suitable habitat in East Texas. Since 1987, Texas has worked with the National Wild Turkey Federation and other partners to transplant from other states more than 7,000 wild, trapped eastern turkeys to the Pineywoods. Texas hunters paid the $3.5 million price tag for the project.

Since 1995 when Texas’ first spring eastern turkey hunting season was opened in Red River County, TPWD has maintained a conservative approach – a 14-day season, mandatory check stations, one gobbler bag limit – to give the birds ample opportunity to establish themselves in new haunts. As turkey numbers have increased and flocks expand into new areas, the agency has steadily increased hunting opportunity by opening a spring season in 42 East Texas counties.

Other proposals offered by TPWD would add two more counties to the mix beginning in 2005, Hardin and Liberty, and expand the season to encompass all of two others, Montgomery and Tyler counties.

The recommendations were presented to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission’s Regulations Committee at its Jan. 28 meeting. Each year, TPWD considers changes in hunting and fishing regulations to achieve resource management objectives and maximize outdoor recreation opportunities.

TPWD will be gathering public input at public meetings during February and March, and the commission will determine the final regulation changes at its April 8 meeting.

In addition to the turkey season proposals, TPWD is considering modifications to the late youth-only deer season designed to reduce confusion and increase opportunity. If approved as proposed, the changes would extend the same opportunities granted youth during the early youth-only season to the late season, including the opportunity to harvest bucks where county regulations provide that option.

Other recommendations advanced by the agency include:

  • Implementation of a 4-day doe season in eight East Texas counties where the current antlerless harvest is by permit only.
  • Re-establish the season framework in the Panhandle for pheasants to a 30-day season opening on Dec. 1.
  • Implementation of fall season for Rio Grande turkey in Denton and Johnson counties.
  • Implementation of a 14-18 inch slot limit for largemouth bass on San Augustine City Lake (San Augustine County).
  • Implementation of an 18-inch minimum length limit for largemouth bass and restricting angling to pole and line only for new Lake Pflugerville (Travis County), which is scheduled to open in 2005.
  • Alteration of rules on community fishing lakes (statewide) to eliminate length limits for blue and channel catfish.
  • Implementation of statewide regulations for white bass and white bass/striped bass hybrids on Lake O’ the Pines (Camp, Marion, Morris, and Upshur counties) and Pat Mayse (Lamar County) and removal of the downstream tailrace areas from the boundary definitions for these two reservoirs.
  • Creation of a boundary definition for Lake Murvaul (Panola County) to extend the 14-21 inch slot limit for largemouth bass to the downstream tailrace area.
  • Modification of saltwater perch trap rules to incorporate degradable panels
  • Inclusion of “star trap” as legal gear to capture crabs in Texas.
  • Legalize the use of minnow traps in saltwater.

Public comment about these issues and others of interest may be made at any upcoming public meeting or to TPWD, Attn: Robert Macdonald for wildlife issues, Paul Hammerschmidt for saltwater issues and Ken Kurzawski for freshwater issues, 4200 Smith School Road, 78744, or by phoning (800) 792-1112 or by visiting the Web (