Everything is bigger in Texas, or so they say. It’s hard to argue that when it comes to hunting opportunities for sure. The rural landscape of Texas offers not only natural beauty, but abundant populations of wildlife.
If variety is the spice of life, then Texas hunting is as hot as a habanero pepper. The experience includes the high, wide skies of the Panhandle to the north; the tropical thorn forests of the southern Lower Rio Grande Valley; the Trans-Pecos western vistas, and the green timberlands of the lush piney woods in the eastern part of the almost 180,000 million acre “Friendship” state.
There are abundant private and public lands to hunt. There are also a variety of rules and regulations that are a hunter’s personal responsibility to follow. Because of the variety of lands and types of hunts, most visitors to the state use guides and outfitters to help them find success.
What can you hunt in Texas? A shorter list would be what you “can’t” hunt in Texas. The major game animals in Texas are white-tailed deer, mule deer, desert bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, gray or cat squirrel, red or fox squirrel, collared peccary or javelina, and alligators. There is also good hunting for almost any native or migratory waterfowl within the state.
Texas Public Lands
The Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) of Texas offer a unique opportunity for the public to learn and experience the natural part of Texas and the systems that support life. WMAs are operated by the Wildlife Division of Texas Parks and Wildlife. There are 47 Wildlife Management Areas covering 714,094 acres of hunting habitat. WMAs are established to represent habitats and wildlife populations typical of each ecological region of Texas.
WMAs offer a chance to experience Texas’ natural beauty – from the high, wide skies of the Panhandle in the north, to the southern tropical thorn forests of the Lower Rio Grande Valley – and from the spectacular western vistas of the Trans-Pecos, to the lush green mystery of the Pineywoods in East Texas.
WMAs also exist to perform research on wildlife populations and habitat, conduct education on sound resource management, and to provide public hunting, hiking, camping, bird watching and a host of other outdoor recreational opportunities.
The state’s Annual Public Hunting (APH) Permit offers inexpensive, family-oriented outdoor recreational activities including hunting for a multitude of wildlife species, fishing, nature watching, camping and other activities in Texas. Over the years, a little over 1 million APH Permits and Limited Public Use (LPU) Permits have been sold. This includes access to over 180 hunting areas, including wildlife management areas, state parks, and approximately 120 dove and small game areas leased from private landowners. This program includes over a million acres of land located throughout Texas. A downloadable map booklet and the website has information on property owned by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) as well as acreage leased by TPWD from other state and federal agencies is available online.
The whitetail deer is king. An estimated 450,000 – 500,000 whitetails are harvested in Texas each year, making it No. 1 in the nation in deer harvests. Texas deer on average are not as big as some from cooler climates, but they often sport massive racks.
Next up is mule deer, a much larger deer that is a totally different species. Mule deer numbers in Texas have shown some decline in recent years basically due to extended drought and lack of proper forage. But management efforts are underway to build back up those habitats. Still, Texas hunters are able to take nearly 100,000 mule deer each year.
Southern Texas is most notable as the home for the state’s biggest bucks, although many of those are on ranches like the legendary 800,000 acre King Ranch. There are public areas as well, too. The Cross Timbers and Post Oak Savannah area in the north central part of the state has an incredible deer population that is sometimes estimated to include half of the state’s total population. Other top regions include the Newton Country public hunting area. It’s a popular bowhunting region in East Texas and isn’t pressured as much as some other areas. The most-leased area of Texas is the Pinewoods region which includes, as you might guess, thickets of pine trees which offer great hiding places for the deer. Again there are some public areas, including land left open for hunting by timber companies in the region.
Birds and Waterfowl
Quail is the top target for bird hunters in the Lone Star State. Three kinds of quail exist in Texas: bobwhite, scaled, and Gambel’s. There are also a few scaled quail, also known as blue quail, found in the western third of the state. The Gambel quail are most noted in the Trans-Pecos region. American woodcock, chachalaca (also called the Mexican Tree Pheasant), doves, and pheasants also provide good hunting opportunities in Texas.
Many areas of Texas aren’t conducive to duck hunting, but there are almost two dozen public hunting units on state-operated WMAs open to duck and goose hunters during waterfowl season in the fall and winter. Turkey hunting is also great in Texas, with Rio Grande and Eastern species available.
Texas Hunting Trips
Your choices for a Texas hunting trip are as wide open as the blue sky above. Search HuntAnywhere.com for a guide that can accommodate your group’s needs. It’s the adventure of a lifetime when you’re on a Texas hunt – book today!