Hunting Season Rapidly Approaching
By Teresa Holloway
TEXAS – It’s about that time again, the best season of all – backstrap, biscuits and beans season.
Nothing compares to sitting around the campfire, stuffed full of venison and enjoying the cool nip in the air except feeling ‘full freezer’ happy. Those are sensations reserved for Deer Season here in Texas.
Already empty deer corn bags litter the sides of the roads, (please don’t litter, folks) and pounds of salt and deer ‘caine are headed out to favorite stands.
Laws about deer hunting and hunter safety are in place to make sure everyone has a safe trip out and back.
The U.S. Forest Service is urging hunters to use caution in the woods. National Forests have specific guidelines that must be observed to maintain hunting privileges on protected lands.
The NFS reminded hunters heavy rains and flood damages earlier this year affected numerous roads both in the forests and the grasslands.
Most roads have been repaired, but some remain impassable or are closed. Check with your local rangers before heading out. Your favorite camp may be closed.
“Hunting season is one of the busiest times in the forest, but safety is always a primary concern,” said Acting Forest Supervisor Kimpton Cooper. “Visitors should check their surroundings and be aware of the possibility of falling limbs or trees. Remember, being in the woods is great, but you are responsible for your own safety.”
Water-logged trees, rotted but erect, have a tendency to just fall over without much warning. Widow-makers are always a threat in the woods, especially after sustained rains.
Medical assistance isn’t always timely in the remote areas of Texas forests and grasslands.
Cell phones may not work in these areas. Hunters should take sufficient food, water and an extensive first aid kit. Clothing and other equipment should be suited to rapid changes of weather.
“Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) use on the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas is limited to designated routes, and the only such designation is the multiple-use trail on the Sam Houston National Forest. Cross-country and off-road use of motorized vehicles of any type is prohibited,” according to NFS.
“Wear your orange,” officials stress. Not only is it the law, it saves lives. Every year, more hunters take advantage of the forests and accidental shootings occur with alarming frequency. If accompanied, all individuals must be in orange.
The only exceptions are hunting at night, or hunting turkey or migratory birds.
At least 144 square inches on both the chest and the back must be visible and a daylight flourescent orange hat or cap must be worn.
“All those camping or hunting in the Angelina, Davy Crockett, Sabine or Sam Houston National Forest or the Caddo National Grasslands must camp in designated campsites or developed recreation areas through Feb. 1,” NFS stressed the importance of overnighting in approved areas only.
Fire danger remains high, despite the rains. Camp fires should be in an area cleared for at least three feet in diameter and when no longer in use, extinguished completely.
WMA hunters must have the $48 annual hunting permit to hunt deer, turkey, small game, waterfowl and feral hogs.
WMAs in the national forests and grasslands include the Alabama Creek area in the Davy Crockett NF, Bannister WMA in Angelina NF, Caddo WMA in the Caddo National Grassland and the Moore Plantation WMA in the Sabine NF.
All of Sam Houston National Forest is a wildlife management area and regulations vary from WMA to WMA. Check with the rangers before beginning the hunt.
Seventy two hours is all the time allowed for leaving portable deer stands in any one location. No stands may be nailed to trees. Don’t block roads or trails or gates with parked vehicles.
Hunters may also visit the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas website at www.fs.fed.usda.gov/texas and click on the Hunter Camp Maps – 2016 link for more information.
In Texas, Archery season begins Oct.1 and runs through Nov. 4, no permit is required to hunt antlerless deer unless MLDP permits have been issued for the property.
General season begins Nov. 5 and runs through Jan. 1 this year. Early Youth-Only Season begins Oct. 29 – 30, 2016 and late youth only season begins Jan.2 2017.
Texas Parks and Wildlife has opted to conduct antlerless deer permit selections for some national forests in Texas this year. Hunting antlerless deer in the National Forests in Texas is conducted only within WMAs and only by permit.
Applications may only be submitted online, according to TPWD, they are no longer accepted by mail or email. Make application to tpwd.texas.gov/drawnhunts.
“TPWD inventories deer populations in national forests and adjacent lands and uses the antlerless deer hunts to balance populations. The number of permits issued varies from year to year and the number of requests usually exceeds the number of permits available,” TPWD officials said.
Very soon, the weather will cool and the woods and grasslands will teem with a whole different kind of critter – the two–legged orange-backed hunter. Be safe.