Mule Deer2020-2021 Seasons & Regulations

Archery Only
Statewide excluding Southwest Panhandle Oct. 3 - Nov. 6, 2020
Brewster, Pecos, Terrell Counties Oct. 3 - Nov. 6, 2020
General Season
Panhandle Nov. 21 - Dec. 6, 2020
Southwestern Panhandle Nov. 21 - 29, 2020
Trans-Pecos Nov. 27 - Dec. 13, 2020
Brewster, Pecos, Terrell Counties Nov. 27 - Dec. 13, 2020

Statewide Bag Limits

Bag limits are established by county. No person may exceed the annual bag limit of five white-tailed deer, no more than three of which may be bucks. The annual bag limit does not apply on MLDP properties.

Find your county to view specific limits.


Mandatory Harvest Reporting for Antlerless White-tailed Deer

Any antlerless deer harvested in the following counties during archery, youth-only, muzzleloader, or the four antlerless deer days during general season is required to be reported within 24 hours of harvest to the department via mobile application or online.

Counties: Austin, Bastrop, Caldwell, Colorado, Comal (East of I-35), De Witt, Fayette, Goliad (North of US 59), Gonzales, Guadalupe, Hays (East of I-35), Jackson (north of US 59), Karnes, Lavaca, Lee, Travis (East of I-35), Victoria (North of US 59), Waller, Washington, Wharton (North of US 59), and Wilson.


Definition of Buck Deer

A deer with a hardened antler protruding through the skin. Deer with antlers completely covered in velvet (protruding through the skin) are also considered buck deer. A buck deer must be tagged with a buck deer tag or applicable tag or permit. For tagging purposes, all other deer are antlerless deer, regardless of sex.


Special Antler Restriction

An experimental antler restriction for mule deer bucks applies in Briscoe, Childress, Cottle, Floyd, Hall, Lynn and Motley counties:

  • a legal buck deer is defined as a buck with an outside antler spread of the main beams of 20 inches or greater.
  • any buck for which the outside spread of the main beams is less than 20 inches is NOT legal to harvest.
  • any buck with at least one unbranched antler (e.g., spike) is NOT legal to harvest, unless the outside spread of the main beams is at least 20 inches in width.

The average ear-tip to ear-tip spread of mule deer bucks standing in the alert position is 21 inches, as shown in the buck illustrations. The outside spread is estimated in a similar manner; however, the measurement is taken by using the outside spread of the main beams, as shown by the black arrows/dotted lines below. TPWD requests hunters to voluntarily present the entire head (intact) of any buck mule deer harvested in the experimental antler-restriction counties to a designated check station to help assess the experimental antler-restriction regulation.

outside spread of 20 inches or greater is legal but smaller outside spreads or at least one unbranched antler are illegal to harvest

For more information on the experimental mule deer antler restriction, including a map of the areas covered, harvest check station locations and incentives to hunters who check their harvest, see Experimental Mule Deer Antler Restriction.


Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

CWD is a fatal disease that has been discovered in white-tailed deer, mule deer, and elk in localized portions of Texas. To detect and manage this disease, the department has designated CWD Zones.

Hunters who harvest mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, or other exotic CWD-susceptible species within the CWD Zones are required to bring their animals to a TPWD check station within 48 hours of harvest. Hunters must check each animal harvested and receive a CWD receipt before taking any part of that animal from the CWD Zone, including any meat or quartered parts.

Additional regulations may apply and additional zones may be established without prior notice anywhere in the state upon discovery of CWD. The department will make every effort to publicize the designation and location of CWD Zones and check stations, as well as any special regulations that may be adopted following the publication of this notice. For the latest updates, call (800) 792-1112., or visit the CWD information pages. A hunter who harvests a CWD-susceptible species outside a CWD Zone and wishes to have the animal tested for CWD should contact a wildlife biologist in that area

Please report any symptomatic CWD-susceptible species to your local Texas Game Wardens or a Wildlife Biologist

Find check stations, view CWD zones and learn more about CWD.


Tagging a Deer

A tag from the hunting license of the person who killed the deer must be correctly and legibly completed (including name of property and county) and immediately attached to the animal (exception is properties with issued tags such as MLDP tags). See how to properly tag a deer.

The hunter MUST:

  • use the specific type of deer (for example, buck tags must be used only on buck deer, antlerless tags on antlerless deer, etc.)
  • have the month and date of kill clearly cut out on the tag by notching the respective month and day. Do not “ink out.”
  • immediately complete, date and cut out the appropriate hunting license tag after a deer is harvested but before the deer is field dressed, moved or tagged.
  • after a deer is harvested, but before the deer is field-dressed immediately before moving carcass, complete the log, in ink, on the back of the hunting license. Asterisks in the log indicate bucks with an inside main beam spread of at least 13 inches.

Completion of the log is not required for mule deer, or for white-tailed deer or mule deer lawfully taken under a MLDP tag, TPWD Special Drawn Public Hunt permit, or on a Big Time Texas Hunt.

Where to Attach Tag to Deer

The tag may be attached anywhere on a deer so that it is not damaged, defaced, or lost in transporting or handling. For deer, the appropriate tag or permit must remain attached until the deer reaches its final destination and is quartered. If deer’s head is severed from the carcass (body), then the appropriate tag or permit must remain attached to its carcass. If the head does not accompany the carcass, then the head must be accompanied by a Wildlife Resource Document.

TIP: Remember that if the head and the carcass are separated, the tag from the hunting license goes with the meat and the WRD goes with the head.

NOTICE: Read the tag use description on your license carefully before attaching to harvested deer.


Special Late Season

In counties with a Special Late Season, harvest is restricted to antlerless and unbranched antlered deer (a buck with at least one antler that has no more than one point). A point is a projection that extends at least one inch from the edge of a main beam or another tine. The tip of the main beam is also a point.

Find your county for detailed regulations.


Youth-Only Seasons

  • Age Restriction: ONLY licensed hunters 16 years of age or younger are eligible to participate in youth-only deer seasons.
  • Youth-only seasons may run concurrently with other seasons (Archery, Muzzleloader, Special Late) but do not prevent any person from lawfully hunting under the provisions established for those seasons.
  • Any lawful means may be used, except in Collin, Dallas, Grayson, and Rockwall counties, where lawful means are restricted to lawful archery equipment only (crossbows prohibited except for youth with upper limb disability).
  • Bag Limits, take of antlerless deer, and special requirements:
    • In Austin, Bastrop, Caldwell, Colorado, Comal (East of I-35), De Witt, Fayette, Goliad (North of US 59), Gonzales, Guadalupe, Hays (East of I-35), Jackson (north of US 59), Karnes, Lavaca, Lee, Travis (East of I-35), Victoria (North of US 59), Waller, Washington, Wharton (North of US 59), and Wilson counties, the bag limits, requirements for the take of antlerless deer, and special requirements are the same as the period Nov 28 - Dec 1 for each respective county.
    • For the remainder of the state, the bag, tag and permit requirements are the same as for the first two days of the general season in the county

Find your county for detailed regulations.


Hunting on Federal Lands

  • It is the responsibility of the hunter to be aware of applicable federal and state regulations on federal lands(Forest Service, National Recreation Areas, Corps of Engineers, etc.)
  • On the LBJ National Grasslands in Montague and Wise counties antlerless may only be taken during archery, youth-only, and during the 4-day season (known as doe days).
  • On all other US Forest Service (USFS) lands, antlerless deer may only be taken during archery, muzzleloader, and the youth-only seasons.

Hunting on Federal or other Governmental Lands

When hunting on U.S. Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, River Authority properties or other lands owned or administered by units of government (federal, state, or local), additional regulations and/or requirements may apply. It is the responsibility of the hunter to determine if such additional regulations or requirements apply.

  • U.S. Forest Service (USFS) - on USFS properties managed by TPWD through the Public Hunting Program, antlerless deer may be taken by special drawn hunt permit. These properties include Alabama Creek WMA, Bannister WMA, Caddo National Grasslands WMA, Moore Plantation WMA, Sam Houston National Forest WMA.