Everyone is looking for a bargain these days. Unfortunately, there are not many to find.
People are paying more for everything from pork chops to Cheetos, and no one seems to have any idea when things might level off. With corn nearing $8 a bushel, it’s spooky to think about what it might cost to fill a deer feeder this fall.
The good news is that inflation has not spread to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s public hunting program. The same goes for hunting and fishing licenses.
The last time Texans saw a license price increase was in fiscal year 2009-10. For example, the cost of a Super Combo license increased by four dollars ($64 to $68).
In 2004, the annual public hunting permit fee increased from $40 to $48, application fees for TPWD drawn hunts increased by one dollar, and drawn hunting permit fees increased by $5. Those prices haven’t changed since then, but the number and quality of the drawn hunts menu has grown significantly.
There are some great deals through the drawn hunts program. There is something there for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hunter on a budget or a guy with deep pockets. For decades, the program has a rich history of offering hunters opportunities on dozens of high-quality hunts at a truly affordable price.
Beginning in early July, hunters can go online and apply through the Drawn Hunts link on the public hunt section of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website, tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild /hunt/public/. You can request as many different hunts as you like, but you cannot request the same hunt in the same area more than once.
Many hunts allow multiple people on the same app. If it is drawn, everyone in the group can go.
You will need access to a computer, Internet access, and an active email address to apply. Applications by mail are not accepted.
As always, hunts will be available for a variety of game including Whitetail Deer, Mule Deer, Alligator, Pronghorn Antelope, Bighorn Sheep, Exotics, Pheasant, Wild Boar, Turkey, Dove, Wild Boar, Squirrel, Quail and Waterfowl.
The hunts will be this fall and winter at state wildlife management areas, state parks, federal wildlife refuges, US Forest Service properties, and select private tracts located throughout the state. While many of the hunts allow the use of firearms, others are designated “Archery Only”. There are also several hunts open to junior hunters only with a supervising adult.
There are four hunting options to choose from: special permit hunts, e-postcard hunts, US Forest Service permits, and national wildlife refuge hunts.
Most hunts cost between $3 and $10 to apply, but some are free.
The selected candidates will be decided by a random computer draw. All drawings take place shortly after the application deadline.
Additional permit fees are charged to adult participants on most special permit hunts. Hunting fees range from $80 to $130, depending on the length of the hunt.
There are no fees for hunts on private land, guided packages, pronghorn hunts, or youth-only special permit hunts. E-postcard hunts or national forest antlerless permits are also free, but adults must have a valid $48 public hunting permit.
About 10,000 permits are up for grabs in 62 different categories this year, according to TPWD Public Hunting Coordinator Kelly Edmiston. Edmiston says about 5,300 permits are for hunts in state-managed wildlife management areas, state parks, public hunting lands and private lands.
Another 3,100 permits are for hunts on select national wildlife refuges and 1,380 antlerless permits are designated for use on US Forest Service property. Nearly 1,500 permits are available in 14 Youth Only categories.
The 2022-23 online catalog and application link is expected to go live sometime around the 4th of July holiday. For those who have never visited the website, there is a wealth of information that can be helpful in tailoring game selection according to the species you wish to hunt, preferred hunting methods, the distance you wish to travel, the number of hunters allowed by request and application deadlines.
Hunts are listed by species and type: special permit, e-postcard selection, national refuge, and US Forest Service hornless. Most list number of permits available, legal hunting methods, number of applicants from the previous season and success rates.
Some hunts generate more attention than others. For years, the Chaparral WMA near Cotulla attracted more applications than any other location. “The ‘Chap” remains the first choice among whitetail trophy hunters. In 2020, there were nearly 5,800 requests for his Gun Deer hunt – Any Sex.
Edmiston says pronghorn and exotic hunts are getting the most attention these days. He noted two exotic guided hunts (Scimitar-horned Oryx and Gemsbok) in the Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA), the Rita Blanca Nationals Grasslands Pronghorn hunt, the Powderhorn WMA exotic hunt, and the Bighorn in West Texas as the most popular hunts on the show. “The Chaparral WMA either-sex Gun Deer hunt is still in the top 10 for number of applicants,” he said.
Edmiston added that several state parks will rejoin the hunt program this year, while the newly acquired Powderhorn State Park in Calhoun County will offer lottery hunts for the first time. TPWD will also begin handling archery positions drawn for the Muleshoe NWR this year, he said.
TPWD’s public hunting program has always had a strong following. The department has seen an increase in participation since the pandemic hit.
In 2021, the agency processed nearly 250,000 lottery hunt requests, Edmiston said. The increase generated more than $1.2 million in application fees alone, money that is earmarked for running the hunts and improving the program.
“The number of people looking for opportunities in the public hunting program has grown significantly in the last two years,” Edmiston said. “The number of ‘unique’ customers submitting applications through our online sweepstakes system has increased by nearly 30 percent.”
Edmiston said the agency has also seen a 20 percent increase in annual sales of public hunting permits in recent times. The APHP gives holders access to nearly 1 million acres of public land to hunt white-tailed deer, wild boar, doves, quail, turkey, waterfowl, rabbits and squirrels in more than 180 hunting areas during legal hunting seasons. . Areas include wildlife management areas, state parks, and more than 100 pigeon and small game areas leased from private owners.
As of June 1, the department had issued more than 53,000 public hunting permits for the year generating $2.4 million in gross revenue.
According to TPWD small game surveys, about 28 percent of APHP holders make use of the department’s pigeon/small game leases. Edmiston says the program will add eight new pigeon/small game leases this fall. The new leases are located in Floyd, Bailey, Jim Wells, Milam and Bosque counties.
There aren’t many deals these days, but there are plenty of great deals available through TPWD’s public hunt program.
Matt Williams is a freelance writer based in Nacogdoches. He can be reached by email, [email protected].
TPWD’s Carter Smith announces his retirement
From TPWD Reports
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith recently announced that he will retire effective January 2023, ending a nearly 15-year tenure that strengthened stewardship of private lands, expanded state parks and wildlife management areas, bolstered conservation, law enforcement, and park funding. and brought a renewed focus on connecting Texans young and old with the state’s natural resources.
“The opportunity to work alongside the immensely talented and dedicated men and women of this department has been the privilege of a lifetime,” said Smith.
Smith, who began his professional career in 1992 as a TPWD management intern in the Division of Wildlife, has served as executive director since January 2008. During his tenure, the department has acquired significant new public lands, such as the State Park of the Palo Pinto Mountains and the Powderhorn Wildlife Park. Management Area; led major initiatives to enhance and restore coastal and freshwater habitats; added major new biologist, park, and law enforcement positions; built new facilities like the Game Warden Training Center and the John D. Parker State Fish Hatchery; launched the Texas Outdoor Family and Texas Children in Nature programs; secured significant new funding for state and local parks through the dedication of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax and strongly advocated for the need for America’s Wildlife Recovery Act.
In addition to his work with the department, Smith has served on conservation-related boards and advisory councils, including as president and executive committee member of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. He is also a professional member of the Boone & Crockett Club and a life member of the Texas Bighorn Society, The Dallas Safari Club, and the Houston Safari Club. He is an outstanding alumnus of departments at Yale and Texas Tech University and was honored by the Texas Botanical Research Institute’s International Award for Excellence in Conservation, the Sam Beasom Conservation Leader Award from the Texas Texas and the Harvey Weil Professional Conservationist Award.
The TPW Commission will launch an executive search committee to hire the next CEO of TPWD. The search committee will identify and interview potential candidates and provide a recommendation to the commission in a timely manner to ensure a smooth transition and continuity of leadership in agency operations.