Time To Apply for Drawings on Public Hunting Lands

Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov

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AUSTIN, Texas — For a quality, affordable hunting experience, few opportunities can beat the special drawings for hunts offered through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s public hunting program.

During the upcoming hunting seasons, more than 6,000 hunters will be selected through random computer drawings allowing access to some of the state’s high-quality managed wildlife habitat.

Through an application process, hunters can select from among 23 different hunt categories and choose a preferred hunt date and location from 68 hunt areas stretching across the state. There’s even a provision for hunting buddies to apply as a group— in some cases four hunters can apply together on one application.

There are also some unique guided hunt opportunities on Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area, including a 4-day hunt to coincide with the peak of the rut.

Youth-only hunt categories are available to hunters who are between the ages of 8-16 at the time of application. All hunt positions are randomly selected in a computer drawing from all correctly completed entries received by the specified deadline.

New this year, the standby hunter drawings that are held at the areas on the first day prior to the start of the hunt have been changed. Standby drawings will be held at 11 a.m. to help give the drawn standby hunters more time to set up camp prior to starting the hunt.

Matagorda Island Wildlife Management Area will hold its drawing at 8 a.m. on the mainland instead of on the island to make it easier and more convenient for the prospective hunters.

Also new this year, hunters who have been drawn in the special permit hunts will no longer be required to use a tag off their hunting license on white-tailed or mule deer that are taken. The hunters will be issued the free TPWD Legal Deer Tag at the area when they bring their harvested animal to the check station. This will allow the public hunters additional opportunity to use their license tags. The Bonus Tag that has been used in the past will no longer be sold.

Applicants are reminded that the fee for adult applicants in the public hunt drawings is $3 per adult person on the application.

The application deadline for pronghorn antelope hunts on the Rita Blanca National Grasslands north of Dalhart is Aug. 13. Bow hunters have until Aug. 20 to apply for special drawn public archery hunts. Entries for the general (gun) season deer hunts must be completed by Sept. 10.

Last year TPWD received 75,226 applications for the 6,274 positions offered in special drawn hunt categories.

Application booklets are currently being mailed to hunters who applied for hunts by Special Permit last year. The booklets will also available in August at TPWD law enforcement offices. Information about drawings for hunts by special permit as well as the Annual Public Hunting Permit with more than 200 areas and 1.2 million acres of public hunting land, and the Big Time Texas Hunts, can be found on-line at (http://tpwd.texas.gov/hunt/public_hunting/) or by calling toll free (800) 792-1112.

Since 1987, the Annual Public Hunting (APH) Permit system has provided hunters access to almost 1.2 million acres of land for hunting, fishing, camping, and other outdoor related activities on TPWD owned or leased lands. Many areas are open year-round for authorized activities. These lands also include the popular dove and small game leases. Youth younger than age 17 may access and use these lands free when accompanied by a permitted adult. The $48 Annual Public Hunting Permit is available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold. Permit holders receive a Public Hunting Lands Map Booklet and supplement of Public Dove and Other Small Games leases listing available areas, facilities, rules, and activity schedules.

In addition to the special drawings and hunts by APH permit, hunters have several options available from TPWD’s public hunting program, including applying for several types of high-end guided hunt packages through the Big Time Texas Hunts program.

The BTTH program offers some of the finest guided hunts in the state. Proceeds from BTTH, which offers $10 applications for special drawings for the premier hunting trips, pay for additional public hunting opportunities and wildlife conservation work in Texas. Last year TPWD received 82,619 entries in the BTTH drawings.

This year’s BTTH drawings offer the following hunt packages:

  • Texas Grand Slam — one winner experiences a series of four separate hunts for desert bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope.
  • Texas Exotic Safari — two winners get to hunt a choice of African plains antelope species.
  • Texas Whitetail Bonanza — 10 winners receive a high-quality 3-5 day white-tailed deer hunt.
  • Texas Premium Buck Hunt — one winner gets the chance to hunt trophy white-tailed deer.
  • Texas Waterfowl Adventure — one winner receives a series of Panhandle and Coastal Prairie goose hunts and East Texas and Coastal duck hunts.
  • Texas Big Time Bird Hunt — quality quail, pheasant, dove and turkey hunts in some of the best places Texas has to offer.
  • Texas Gator Hunt — a rare experience for a 3-day alligator hunt on a State Wildlife Management Area.

All Big Time Texas Hunts packages include food, lodging and a hunting guide. Some packages, such as the Texas Grand Slam and Texas Exotic Safari provide taxidermy of harvested game. Applications for the BTTH hunts are $10 each and are available wherever hunting licenses are sold or by phone with a major credit card at (800) 895-4248. Persons must be age 18 or older to enter and may apply as many times as they like. The deadline to apply in the BTTH drawings for 2004-05 is Saturday, Nov. 6.