Nine Bar Ranch Blog
For the average person, specific hunting requirements in Texas aren’t the first thing to cross the mind when pondering wildlife. On the other hand, for an ardent hunter, these requirements can potentially determine whether or not you score a trophy. Just as an individual cannot disregard the rules and regulations set in place by their employer, hunters cannot dismiss the laws and regulations implemented by various wildlife departments.
Not only is it preeminent to be aware of the designated hunting seasons for all animals, it’s also crucial that you understand all of the local rules before you step foot in the woods. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is responsible for these regulations in our area, and they also issue hunting licenses and oversee wildlife harvesting.
Often, regulations are consistent from year to year, but there is always a possibility that a law will be added or rescinded from one year to the next. One highly variant law delineates the areas in which hunting is permitted. Because this is determined by the current populations of wildlife, each year, the regulations can differ.
A young child agog at the prospect of journeying out on their first hunting adventure is a thrilling sight to see. Before they begin, it’s crucial to know that any child under the age of nine needs to be accompanied by someone that is 17 or older with a hunting license who has successfully passed a hunter’s education class. When someone is between the ages of nine and 16, they are able to take a hunter’s education class, but they still need to be accompanied by someone over the age of 17 in order to hunt. In addition, there are special youth hunting seasons for white-tailed deer, waterfowl, turkeys, and squirrels.
With regards to hunters of all ages, this article will dive deeper into the methods by which a trophy can be obtained. Six general guidelines provide an outline for legal methods of obtaining your next wildlife trophy in Texas. It is legal to hunt non-migratory game birds and animals specifically from motor vehicles, sailboat, power boats, or other floating devices that are operating within private property. You are permitted to use decoys when hunting game animals and non-migratory game birds, but not when hunting migratory game birds.
It is lawful for an individual to use calling devices, recordings, or other electronic calls when tracking down migratory game birds. Except during Light Goose Conservation Order season, electronic calls are not allowed when hunting non-migratory game birds. It is legal to trap exotic/nongame animals such as feral hogs or rabbits on private property. Any person is permitted to use a dog as an aid when hunting any game bird. Finally, you are allowed to utilize bait for game and nongame animals as well as upland game birds (except Eastern turkey and migratory game birds).
You may think that the type of firearm or weapon can be written off, but it turns out, the way that you go about taking down your trophy is significant. In Texas, any legal firearms are authorized for animals and non-migratory birds except for some specific weapons in relation to certain species of animals. Rimfire ammunition is not permitted when hunting white-tailed deer, mule deer, desert bighorn sheep, or pronghorn. During the spring Eastern turkey season, shotguns are the only authorized weapons. Muzzleloaders, which includes any firearm that is loaded through the muzzle, are not permitted. During muzzleloader deer seasons, only muzzleloader firearms are allowed. Lastly, there are only restrictions on magazine capacity when tracking migratory game birds.
Regarding arrow guns, air guns, and pre-charged pneumatics, TPWD’s website has more in-depth regulations for these weapons. There are also more detailed specifics on archery and crossbows.
Wounding loss is a necessary aspect when considering the variety of weapons that a hunter can use. Most importantly, know and understand the limitations of whatever weapon you decide to utilize. Also, a difference in brand or model will affect ballistic performances and effectiveness. The distance within which the animal is shot influences the wounding loss. Though large animals have been harvested at ranges of 150 yards or greater, the suggested range is less than 75 yards. In minimizing suffering and inhibiting wounding loss, the accuracy of the hunter is key. When a shot can pierce through a major organ (i.e. heart or kidney), wounding loss is decreased. Most importantly, hunters should attempt to take ethical shots that will limit wounding loss as much as possible.
Before you enter the woods, be sure that you are aware of all local regulations. A lack of understanding or knowledge could endanger not only yourself, but other hunters and wildlife. Taking an initiative on the need-to-knows will ensure that each hunting experience is one to remember.
Your first deer hunt is a life-forming experience. You’ll remember every moment and every subsequent hunt will recall how you felt the first time. You don’t have to be raised on hunting to become a deer hunter. Even novices can become experts with training and discipline. Before you can get out there to hunt though, you’ll need to do the prep work. Here’s some of what you’ll need to do to prepare for your first North Texas deer hunt.
Start by finding a hunting partner or mentor. Ideally this would be a friend or family member. You can’t put a price on the knowledge of an experienced hunter. If you don’t know someone who fits this description, you can seek someone out in other ways. Talk to neighbors and coworkers, try to source those you know. You can meet people at local gun training centers and in online hunting groups.
Your partner can help answer many of your questions, but some things you will need to find out for yourself. Choosing your weapon is an individual preference. You’ll need to try before you buy and that takes time. Different caliber guns have different recoil strengths and you’ll need to make sure you can handle it. Make sure you’re comfortable with the size of the weapon. Of course cost is a huge factor. As a first-time hunter you don’t want to make a huge investment in a rifle if it’s not going to be the right fit.
Research the laws of your state if you’re not a Texas local. Each state differs on the timing of hunting seasons, limits of the number of animals you can take, and permits required. The laws can also change each year so make sure your information is up to date.
Choose your location and know the surrounding areas well. If you’re on public land and you shoot an animal that wanders onto private land you will be unable to retrieve it. Know where the borders are and stay well within them. Familiarize yourself with the terrain and scout the location well ahead of the hunt.
Prepare yourself for the hunt. Your first and foremost task is to get blaze orange clothing and the amount of orange you wear will depend on your state’s laws. Your orange can save your life. When choosing camouflage clothing, keep in mind your desired hunting location. Choose camo that matches the surroundings. Invest in good quality waterproof boots because your hunt will only last as long as your feet last. Dress in layers appropriately for the season.
Choosing what to bring with you is crucial to a successful hunt. You don’t want to overpack, but you want to be prepared for emergencies should they arise. Water is your most important item, followed by food. Protein bars are excellent for portability and energy. A sharp hunting knife is a necessity. Other important gear you’ll need is a compass, flashlight and/or headlamp, batteries, and a first aid kit.
Get to know your animal. Different species of deer will exhibit different behaviors. Observe them as much as you can and study them. Their body language will tell you more than words ever could. Watch the positioning of their ears, tail, and head.
Once you’ve done all the groundwork to prepare your hunt, take some time to prepare your mind. Enjoy the time spent in nature away from technology, stress, and the demanding pace of modern living. Part of the joy of hunting comes from centering yourself, quieting the noise around you, and listening to nature. Most of all enjoy your first hunt and truly absorb every bit of the experience because that memory will stay with you forever.