AUSTIN – Current year Texas hunting and fishing licenses (except year-to-date fishing licenses) expire Aug. 31, and new licenses for 2011-2012 will go on sale Monday, Aug. 15.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department issues about 2.1 million hunting and fishing licenses annually through the agency's 28 field offices, more than 65 state parks and at over 1,500 retailers across Texas. For a $5 administrative transaction fee, licenses may also be purchased online through the TPWD Web site or by phone (800-895-4248). Call center hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Friday. The online transaction system is available 24/7. A transaction receipt may be printed at the time of purchase for online and a confirmation number is provided for phone orders, and the physical license is mailed separately. Confirmation numbers will verify that a license has been purchased, which is sufficient for dove hunting, but will not allow hunters to take fish or wildlife that require a tag.
Fishing License Exemptions
Recently the legislature created an exception for fishing licenses. In addition to allowing the public to fish at state parks without a license, resident fishers born prior to Jan. 1, 1931 are exempt from purchasing a state fishing license. These senior anglers are free to fish any state water body without purchasing the required annual license. Resident anglers 65 and older qualify for reduced price fishing and hunting licenses.
Dove Hunting Requirements
In addition to a hunting license, all wing shooters will need to purchase a game bird stamp. To hunt dove or teal in September, a Migratory Game Bird Stamp ($7) is required. Duck hunters also need to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp and receive HIP (Harvest Information Program) certification. HIP certification involves a brief survey of previous year's hunting success and is conducted at the time licenses are purchased. Certification will be printed on the license. Lifetime license holders must also be HIP-certified and purchase the Federal Duck Stamp to hunt migratory birds. All other state stamp endorsements are included with a lifetime license.
There are other mandatory endorsements to consider at the time of purchase, too. An Upland Game Bird Stamp ($7) is required to hunt all non-migratory game birds, including turkey, quail, pheasant, chachalaca and lesser prairie chicken.
Of course, anyone who purchases the Super Combo license package, the best bang for the buck at $68, automatically gets these needed stamps. Sportsmen ages 65 and older qualify for a discounted Senior Super Combo for $32. Duck hunters will still need to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp.
Lifetime License Drawing
Hunters and anglers can also take care of their licensing requirements for life with the purchase of an $1,800 Lifetime Super Combo, or you can enter for a chance at winning a lifetime license through a special drawing. Entries for the Lifetime License Drawing cost $5 each and may be purchased wherever licenses are sold. There is no limit on the number of entries that may be purchased. Winners will be drawn on Dec. 30, 2011 and June 30, 2012. If you enter by Dec. 27, 2011, you will be eligible for both drawings.
Hunter Education Certification is also required of any hunter born on or after Sept. 2, 1971 and who is at least 17 years old. For hunters who are unable to work in a hunter education course before hunting season for whatever reason, TPWD does offer a deferral option that allows people 17 years of age or older a one-time only extension to complete the state's hunter education requirements. The individual must first purchase a hunting license and then may purchase the deferral option #166.
Hunters using the deferral must be accompanied by someone 17 years old or older also licensed to hunt in Texas. The accompanying individual must have completed hunter education or be exempt from the requirements (born before Sept. 2, 1971). The extension is good for one license year, by which time the person with the deferred option needs to complete a hunter education course.
This option is not available to those who have ever received a conviction or deferred adjudication for lack of hunter education certification. They still must take the course before going afield.
Big Time Texas Hunts
Also available through license agents and online are chances for TPWD's Big Time Texas Hunts. The Big Time Texas Hunts program offers the opportunity to win one or more premium guided hunts with food and lodging provided, as well as taxidermy in some cases. The crown jewel of the program is the Texas Grand Slam hunt package, which includes four separate hunts for Texas' most prized big game animals - the desert bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, mule deer and pronghorn antelope. There are several quality whitetail hunt packages available, as well as opportunities to pursue alligator, exotic big game, waterfowl and upland game birds.
Entries for the Big Time Texas Hunt drawings are $10 each and are available wherever hunting licenses are sold. They may also be purchased online at a discounted price of $9 each. There is no limit to the number of entries an individual may purchase, All proceeds from Big Time Texas Hunts benefit conservation, wildlife management and public hunting.
For information concerning the latest regulations and articles on hunting and fishing in Texas, check out the 2011-2012 Outdoor Annual available Sept. 1 in print and online. The online Annual also includes a format easily downloadable for use on smart phones for quick field reference.