Hunting Laws, Penalties & Restitution

Valid Sep. 1, 2023 through Aug. 31, 2024.

General Laws

The following information addresses some common questions about hunting and fishing laws and regulations.

Unlawful Activities

It is unlawful to:

  • take, attempt to take, or possess wildlife resources within a protected length limit, in greater numbers, by other means, or at any time or place, other than as indicated within this guide or as may otherwise be provided by law.
  • hunt on public roads or the right-of-way of public roads; except for certain reptiles and amphibians.
  • store, transport, or abandon an unsecured firearm in a place where children can obtain (unsupervised) access to the firearm. A person under age 17 who has lawful access to a firearm may hunt with the firearm if the youth has successfully completed the hunter education course, or is accompanied by a licensed hunter age 17 or older who has complied with the hunter education requirement, if applicable.
  • drive a motor vehicle in the bed of a navigable freshwater stream, unless approved by a local river access plan established by a city, county, or river authority. This law does not apply to the Canadian River and Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River. Other exemptions may be found in the Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 90.
  • fish on privately-owned waters, fish in public water from private land, or hunt on privately-owned lands without the permission of the owner or the owner’s agent.
  • fish on public water from private land without a fishing license.
  • enter property that is agricultural, fenced, posted with a sign(s), or marked (purple paint) without the express permission of the owner (Texas Penal Code §30.05). Posts or trees bearing a purple paint marking of not less than eight inches in length and not less than one inch in width and not less than three or more than five feet from the ground, constitute notice that the property is posted.
  • hunt any animal without landowner consent.
  • kill a desert bighorn sheep, pronghorn, white-tailed deer, or mule deer without landowner consent (Parks and Wildlife Code state jail felony). Upon conviction, hunting and fishing license is automatically revoked.
  • discharge a firearm on or across a public road.
  • possess a deer or any part of a deer that has been hit by a motor vehicle

Personal Identification

While hunting, fishing or trapping, persons 17 years of age or older must carry on their person a valid driver’s license or personal identification certificate issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Non-residents must carry similar documents issued by the agency in their state or country of residence that is authorized to issue driver’s licenses or personal identification certificates.

Inspection Authority

A game warden who observes a person engaged in an activity governed by the Parks and Wildlife Code or reason- ably believes that a person is or has been engaged in such an activity may inspect:

  • any license, permit, tag, or other document issued by the department and required by the Parks and Wildlife Code of a person hunting or catching wildlife resources;
  • any device that may be used to hunt or catch a wildlife resource;
  • any wildlife resource in the person's possession; and
  • the contents of any container or receptacle that is commonly used to store or conceal a wildlife resource.

The full text of this law may be found in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, §12.102 or call TPWD at (800) 792-1112.

Waste of Game

It is an offense (Class C misdemeanor) if a person while hunting, kills or wounds a game bird or game animal and intentionally or knowingly fails to make a reasonable effort to retrieve it and include it in the person’s daily or seasonal bag limit. It is an offense if a person intentionally takes or possesses a game bird, game animal, or a fish and intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly, or with criminal negligence, fails to keep the edible portions in an edible condition.

It is a Class A misdemeanor to fail to retrieve or fail to keep in an edible condition a white-tailed or mule deer, pronghorn, or desert bighorn sheep hunted:

  • without landowner consent;
  • from a vehicle, boat, or aircraft (including unmanned aerial vehicles) on a public road;
  • at night; or
  • with the aid of a light.

Retrieval of Game and Hunting Dogs

No person may enter any property to pursue wounded game, retrieve a dog, or for any other purpose, without the consent of the landowner.

Harassment of Hunters, Trappers, or Anglers

Under the Sportsmen’s Rights Act (Parks and Wildlife Code, §62.0125), harassment of hunters, trappers, or anglers is punishable by a fine of $200 to $2,000 and/or 180 days in jail.

Hunter Orange

Hunter orange is recommended for hunter safety but is not required while hunting on private property.

Criminal Penalties and Civil Value Recovery

If you violate fish and wildlife laws, you may:

  • be fined for misdemeanors
    • (Class C - $25-$500
    • Class B - $200-$2,000
    • Class A - $500-$4,000;
  • be fined for state jail felonies ($1,500-$10,000 and/or up to 2 years in jail);
  • face automatic suspension or revocation of licenses for up to five years; and
  • forfeit hunting gear, including firearms, used to commit a violation.

Civil Restitution

In addition to the criminal penalty for hunting and fishing violations, the department will seek the civil recovery value for the loss or damage to wildlife resources. Failure to pay the civil recovery value will result in the department’s refusal to issue a future license, tag, or permit. Hunting or fishing after failing or refusing to pay civil restitution is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a $500 - $4,000 fine; punishment in jail (not to exceed one year); or both. For questions call (512) 389-4630.

Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact

Texas is a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC) which allows member states to share information about wildlife violators and to deny licensure to persons who have failed to comply with conservation law in member states. For more information call (512) 389-8801.