- Real Estate
- Paris Flash
Soon, the red and yellow leaves will set the backdrop for hunters of game birds and animals alike as they gather up their camouflage gear and prepare for the start of the fall hunting season.
Whether you approve or disapprove of this seasonal activity, hunting is a popular pastime, especially among Texans.
For many, it represents a return to man’s primitive roots when it was essential for survival. For others, it’s a means to bring food to the table without all the processing of store-bought meat. Whatever the justification, every hunter must abide by the regulations set by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
For some, the mention of a game warden may bring about negative associations. An episode in the third season of A&E’s popular television show Duck Dynasty (no explanation necessary) featured Phil Robertson running away when approached by a game warden, seemingly leaving his companions to fend for themselves.
Though this particular stunt was most likely staged in good humor (despite what the term implies, reality television is not always true to life), as long as hunters have all of their ducks in a row and are familiar with the rules and regulations, such potential encounters and possible penalties can be avoided for a stress and fee free experience.
Note: running from a game warden is not recommended.
First and foremost, anyone who wishes to hunt in the state of Texas during the current fall season must possess a valid hunting license. Lamar County Game Warden Bryan Callihan said these are available at places such as Walmart, Scottie’s on 79 and Brannan’s Bass Shop in Powderly. They are also available for purchase on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s website.
Each license requires various stamp endorsements.
“There [are] stamp requirements for different animals,” Callihan said. “If you hunt during the archery only season, then you have to have an archery stamp. Then there’s an upland game bird, which covers turkey, quail, things like that. Then there’s a migratory stamp that covers your doves, ducks, geese.”
The cost of stamps is generally $7 each. For those who wish to possess a more inclusive license (save for the federal duck stamp, according to Callihan), a super combination license is available for $68.
Anyone who was born on or after Sept. 2, 1971, is required to successfully complete a one-time, 10-hour Hunter Education Training Course before donning the orange vest and hat. The course does not prohibit purchase of a hunting license.
“You can still buy a license, but if you go out hunting, and you get caught, you can get cited for not having hunter education,” Callihan said.
The minimum age of certification is 9. Anyone wishing to hunt who is between the ages of 9 and 16 must complete this course or be accompanied by a licensed adult who has either completed the course or is exempt. Though those 17 and older must complete the course as well, according to Callihan, they can postpone the process for one year.
“In our law, once you turn 17, you’re considered an adult and you have to have that course, no questions asked,” he said. “But there is a one-year deferral that you can buy for $10.”
The referral does not exempt the hunter from the provision requiring accompaniment, no matter the hunter’s age.
Whether hunting by oneself or with a group, proper safety precautions are always important. Essentially, a weapon is only as good as the person using it.
Despite what movies and television shows imply, picking up a bow and arrow or rifle for the first time and actually hitting the intended target from half a mile away is not likely. Familiarizing oneself with the weapon of choice (which is dependent on the season), the targets and the surroundings is essential.
Callihan said muzzle control is a big component in maintaining safety.
“[Know] where the gun’s pointing when you’re crossing fences, getting out of vehicles, getting up and down out of deer stands,” he said. “Always make sure of what you’re shooting at and what’s beyond. Not just in the area you’re shooting, but past that area. You never know when there’s a farmhouse or somebody else walking across the field or something.”
Though seasoned hunters are more than likely familiar with them, a refreshment of the various rules and regulations never hurts. Concerning dove season, which began on Sept. 1, hunters must possess a migratory bird stamp (which also includes ducks) and must be HIP (Harvest Information Program) certified.
“What it does is it puts you in the database where they can call and get harvest information from the hunters,” said Callihan. “Like, they may call during the summer and say how many doves did you kill last year total, and that kind of gives them a way to change the harvest quota.”
Hunters in the upcoming deer seasons should also be aware of the antler restrictions. In Lamar County, hunters are allowed two bucks. According to Callihan, they can kill two unbranched deer, or one unbranched and what he referred to as a trophy deer. The deer’s antler spread must be at least 13 inches (wider than when the deer’s ears are in the alert position).
“So a lot of people need to take time to make sure to look at the deer good, try to get its attention to … look at them,” said Callihan. “You know, if the deer is out there two or three hundred yards, and they can’t tell, then they need to let it go or let it get closer.”
Hunters should also be aware of local hunting spots; obviously, shooting an animal in the middle of the city is not permitted.
According to Callihan, three-quarters of Pat Mayse Lake is Corps of Engineers and is open to the public with just a license (no hat or vest necessary). The Wildlife Management area in the back end of the lake requires a $48 permit in addition to the regular license.
“Most of that is just open for archery only and small game like dove and quail and duck,” he said.
A special drawing is completed in the summer for those wishing to hunt deer (with guns) in such areas. Following a book about special drawing and regular permit hunting opportunities sent out by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department every year, hopeful applicants send in their information for a random drawing.
“And a lot of that’s for the gun part so they can control how many people are in there with guns,” said Callihan.
Those who hunt on their own property are not exempt from the rules.
“[On] private land, people have more control who comes in and goes,” Callihan said. “But you still have to follow the same limits and seasons.”
For hopeful hunters, 16 and under, is the opportunity to participate in Youth Only Season.
“We have a period of four days during Thanksgiving where you can take antlerless deer, which is usually your female deer,” said Callihan. “During that time, in this county, you can take two and just put the tag off your license. Any other time during the season you have to have a special permit, which is called a LAMPS permit or an MLD.”
If accepted, LAMPS (Landowner Assisted Management Permitting System) grants eligible landowners to take antlerless deer in a buck season. In its most basic form, an MLD (Managed Lands Deer) permit does not follow antler restrictions. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department provides more thorough information about both programs.
“We also have a youth season prior to the gun and then two weeks after the regular rifle season is over, where kids 16 and under can hunt, and they can take those does just like Thanksgiving,” said Callihan.
The Youth Only seasons introduce participants to safe and responsible hunting and do not occur during times when school is in session.
The Lamar County fall/early winter hunting seasons are as follows:
Dove: Sept. 1-Oct. 23, Dec. 20-Jan. 5.
Early Teal-Only: Sept. 14-29
Canada Goose-Only: Sept. 14-29
White-tailed Deer, Archery: Sept. 28-Nov. 1
General White-tailed Deer: Nov. 2-Jan. 5 (no antlers permit required except on LAMPS or MLD property); Nov. 2-27 and Dec. 2-Jan. 5 (antlerless by LAMPS or MLD only)
White-tailed Deer, Youth Only: Oct. 26-27, Jan. 6-19
Squirrel: Oct. 1-Feb. 2
Quail: Oct. 26-Feb. 23
For more extensive information on anything mentioned in the article, and for information about other hunting seasons, the various penalties, restitutions and bag limits, visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us/.
By Courtney McNeal, eParisExtra