Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its March 27 public hearing approved expanded mule deer hunting in several counties and extended squirrel season across parts of East Texas.
An archery-only open season and 16-day general season for mule deer in Knox County, and a nine-day general season for mule deer in Castro, Hale and Lubbock counties will be in effect for the 2014-15 hunting seasons. The mule deer season had previously been closed in these counties. The Commission also clarified that use of antlerless mule deer permits would not count against a hunter’s county bag limit, nor require an antlerless mule deer tag from a hunting license. In addition, the use of the permit was extended to be used in archery season with archery equipment only.
The Commission also approved extending squirrel hunting season in 51 East Texas counties to the end of February and permit the use of air rifles meeting minimum standards of 600 fps (feet per second) muzzle velocity, fired from the shoulder (no handguns) and having projectiles of at least .177 caliber. The Commission also eliminated bag and possession limits on squirrel in 12 counties in north-central Texas.
In other Commission action, effective for the spring 2015 season, turkey hunters in East Texas can use mobile technology for mandatory reporting of harvested Eastern turkeys. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is developing a mobile app and a web-based harvest reporting form to facilitate the process electronically.
In addition, a provision prohibiting possession of firearms while hunting deer or turkey during an open archery season has been removed. Lawful archery equipment remains the only means authorized to take deer or turkey during archery season.
Also, the Commission clarified that holders of a valid Texas Lifetime Hunting License must still acquire and use tags annually where tagging of harvested game is required.
The Commission also shortened by one month the current year-round open season for desert bighorn sheep and eliminated the requirement of a landowner affidavit for skulls and horns found in the wild. Persons who find desert bighorn sheep skulls or horns and wish to lawfully possess, must still notify the department within 48 hours and make arrangements to have them plugged.
All regulation changes take effect Sept. 1, 2014.