The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has proposed a number of changes to the state’s hunting regulations that may specifically affect dove and white-tailed deer hunters with extended hunting seasons. The proposed changes are being announced as the TPWD seeks public input before it holds its public hearing on March 24 where it will vote on accepting, modifying, or rejecting the recommendations.
Extended Dove Season
Under a new federal framework for migratory bird hunting seasons, Texas would be allowed a total of 90 days for dove season, up from the current 70-day season. The TPWD is recommending that the extra 20 days be split between the current early and late seasons, with the early season extending into November. The proposed season dates would look like the following by zone:
- North Zone: Sept. 1 – Nov. 13 and Dec. 17 – Jan. 1
- Central Zone: Sept. 1 – Nov. 6 and Dec. 17 – Jan. 6
- South Zone: Sept. 23 – Nov. 13 and Dec. 17 – Jan. 23
- Special White-Winged Area: Sept. 3-4, 10-11, Sept. 23 – Nov. 12, and Dec. 17 – Jan. 19
Deer Season Expansions
The TPWD staff is also recommending a number of changes governing white-tailed deer hunting in Texas. One is the opening of a deer hunting season in 14 counties west of the panhandle based on increasing white-tailed deer populations in these counties. This area would have both an archery-only and a rifle season, with an annual bag limit of one buck and two antler-less deer.
In another proposal, counties in the Post Oak Savannah ecological region of the state would have additional general season days for antler-less whitetails without a special antler-less permit or MLD permit. This change would affect 25 counties in the region. Also in the Post Oak Savannah region, 32 counties would have a two-week muzzleloader-only season that would start immediately after the end of the general whitetail season. The additional antler-less season days are being added to try an balance out the doe to buck ratio in this area where does currently outnumber bucks by as much as 3.5 to 1 according to the TPWD.
The TPWD is also recommending changes to the definition of a legal buck to clear up confusion about the definition of a spike buck. Currently, a spike buck is defined during general season as a buck with at least one unbranched antler in counties with antler restrictions. During the special antler-less and spike only season that follows the end of the general season, a spike buck is defined as a buck with two unbranched antlers. The proposed change would define a legal buck during the late season as a buck with at least one unbranched antler.
The TPWD is also proposing to allow for antler-less deer to be taken on Forest Service lands within the state without a permit during youth-only seasons.
Public Input is Welcome
The public is invited to provide comments on the proposed regulation changes through a number of channels.
Comments can be submitted by phone or email to Robert MacDonald of the TPWD at 512-389-4775 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and comments can also be submitted through the TPWD website at www.tpwd.texas.gov.
Public hearings on the proposals will be held at the following dates and locations:
- Wednesday, Mar. 2 in Tahoka at the City Hall Meeting Room, 7pm
- Tuesday, Mar. 8 in Groesbeck at the Groesbeck Convention Center, 7pm
- Wednesday, Mar. 9 in Cameron at Bea’s Kitchen, 7pm
Additionally, a live online-hearing will be held via webinar on Thursday, Mar. 3 at 7pm; details will be made available on the TPWD website.
Any proposed changes to hunting regulations that are accepted by the TPWD commission will go into effect for the 2016-2017 hunting season on Sept. 1 of this year.