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Secret Spots for Public Hunts
265 places to hunt you never knew existed.

By Larry D. Hodge, Kimberly Tilley and Garland Levit

I have the best hunting lease in Texas. It includes coastal marshes, South Texas brush country, Big Bend mountains, Pineywoods forests and Panhandle plains. On it I've hunted squirrels, rabbits, ducks, white-tailed deer, mule deer, geese, feral hogs, Rio Grande turkeys, eastern turkeys, mourning doves, white-winged doves, bobwhite quail, scaled quail and chachalacas. So far I've passed on hunts for alligators, furbearers, woodcock, snipe and bullfrogs, but I'm thinking about them.

You may be surprised that most of my hunts take place on public land.

Texas is 94 percent privately owned, but the opportunities for hunting on public land are rich and abundant. Besides 50-plus wildlife management areas owned or operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, hunting is available on more than 70 tracts owned by the Texas General Land Office, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and a number of other government agencies and private entities. In addition, TPWD annually leases approximately 150 public dove hunting areas from private landowners. In all, more than 1.5 million acres are open to public hunting.

Hunting on public land appeals to me for a number of reasons. The most important is the challenge. It's difficult to bow hunt bucks in the scant cover around Lake Amistad or figure out the flight paths of doves on a sorghum field in South Texas you are seeing for the first time. However, when I succeed in bagging game under such conditions, I feel I've earned the right to do so.

Hunting on public land also enables me to hunt in many different parts of the state. I love scrambling up rocky Big Bend canyon walls in pursuit of scaled quail as much as I enjoy talking turkey with an eastern gobbler in a pine forest.

Low cost is also an attraction. The $40 Annual Public Hunting Permit from TPWD is all you need for access to most lands. Hunting is free on other public lands, while some agencies charge a small fee. The chart below gives the details. This chart does not include lands in TPWD wildlife management areas or public dove hunting areas. Purchasers of the Annual Public Hunting Permit receive a map book showing these lands. The WMAs are discussed in detail in the book Official Guide to Texas Wildlife Management Areas, available from the University of Texas Press by calling (800) 252-3206. The list below includes areas not covered in any TPWD publication.

If you have a hunting lease on private land but have itchy feet and would like to hunt more places and more kinds of game than can be found there, public land is for you, too. For less than the price of dinner and a movie you can add thousands of acres to your hunting lease - and untold amounts of fun to your hunting season.


Amistad National Recreation Area

National Park Service
HCR 3, Box 5J
Highway 90 West
Del Rio, TX 78840
Phone:
(830) 775-6722
Web site:
www.nps.gov/amis
County:
Val Verde
Acreage:
3,000
Permit required:
Free annual permit, by mail or in person
Game:
Doves, ducks, rabbits, turkeys, deer, quail, javelina, mouflon sheep
Special regulations:
Shotgun for doves, quail and ducks; archery only for deer, javelina, turkey, rabbits, mouflon sheep. Weapons must be unloaded and cased during transport.

Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge

P.O. Box 278
Anahuac, TX 77514
Phone:
(409) 267-3337
County:
Chambers
Acreage:
34,000
Permit required:
Free general permit may be obtained via phone, mail or in person; $10 fee for some areas. Permits must be obtained in person on the day of the hunt.
Game:
Waterfowl
Special regulations:
All shotguns must be unloaded and cased while in transit. Hunters entering by boat must have an Anahuac NWR annual permit. General permit must be carried at all times during hunt.

Angelina National Forest

111 Walnut Ridge Road
Zavalla, TX 75980
Phone:
(936) 897-1068
County:
Jasper, San Augustine, Angelina, Nacogdoches
Acreage:
150,000
Permit required:
Annual Public Hunting Permit in wildlife management area only; antlerless deer permits by drawing.
Game:
Deer, feral hogs, eastern turkeys, waterfowl, squirrels, rabbits, quail, doves
Special regulations:
Part of the forest is within the Bannister WMA, and Public Hunting Lands Program regulations apply there.

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

P.O. Box 100
Austwell, TX 77950
Phone:
(361) 286-3559
County:
Aransas
Acreage:
35,000 (archery); 25,000 (firearms)
Permit required:
Gun permits by lottery, $100; 500 archery permits on first-come, first-served basis, $50
Game:
White-tailed deer, feral hogs
Special regulations:
No baiting, no alcohol

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge

10711 Burnet Road, Ste. 201
Austin, TX 78758
Phone:
(512) 339-9432, ext. 42
(512) 339-9453 (fax)
County:
Travis, Williamson, Burnet
Acreage:
41,000
Permit required:
$15 for dove hunts in September, $50 for deer/turkey hunts
Game:
Deer, feral hogs, bearded turkeys
Special regulations:
Hunters must be at least 12 years old. Game must be taken to a check station. Scouting before hunts is permitted.

Bardwell Lake

4000 Observation Drive
Army Corps of Engineers, Bardwell Project Office
Ennis, TX 75119
Phone:
(972) 875-5711
County:
Ellis
Acreage:
2,528
Permit required:
Corps permit for feral hogs only
Game:
Doves, quail, rabbits, waterfowl, feral hogs, squirrels
Special regulations:
F
eral hog hunting only permitted west of Texas 34 by archery or shotgun with slugs; no hunting within 200 yards of parks or houses; no dogs for feral hogs; permit only for feral hogs.

Belton Lake

3740 FM 1670
Belton, TX 76513
Phone:
(254) 939-2461
County:
Bell, Coryell
Acreage:
3,900
Permit required:
Corps permit for waterfowl only
Game:
Doves, quail, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl
Special regulations:
Free waterfowl permit must be obtained at lake office. Muzzleloaders and crossbows prohibited.

Benbrook Lake

P.O. Box 26619
Fort Worth, TX 76126-0619
Phone:
(817) 292-2400
County:
Tarrant
Acreage:
1,400
Permit required:
Free Corps permit for small game; deer permits by drawing
Game:
Doves, quail, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl, deer
Special regulations:
Archery only for deer; muzzleloaders and crossbows prohibited.

Big Boggy National Wildlife Refuge

1212 N. Velasco, Suite. 200
Angleton, TX 77515
Phone:
(979) 849-6062
County:
Matagorda
Acreage:
4,526
Permit required:
None
Game:
waterfowl
Special regulations:
No permanent blinds; hunting in designated areas only.

Big Thicket National Preserve

3785 Milam
Beaumont, TX 77701
Phone:
(409) 839-2689, ext. 228
County:
Hardin, Jasper, Tyler, Polk
Acreage:
47,400
Permit required:
Obtain in person in July; first-come, first-served basis
Game:
Deer, squirrels, rabbits, feral hogs, waterfowl
Special regulations:
Display Big Thicket Hunting Permit on dash of vehicle. No centerfire weapons; no hunting within 500 feet of trails, roads or residences.

Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

1212 N. Velasco, Suite. 200
Angleton, TX 77515
Phone:
(797) 849-6062
County:
Brazoria
Acreage:
43,388
Permit required:
None
Game:
Waterfowl
Special regulations:
No permanent blinds; hunting in designated areas only.

Canyon Lake

601 COE Road
Canyon Lake, TX 78133
Phone:
(830) 964-3341
County:
Comal
Acreage:
620
Permit required:
Corps permit by drawing
Game:
Deer
Special regulations:
Archery only; proficiency test and hunter safety certification required.

Coleto Creek Reservoir

P.O. Box 68
Fannin, TX 77960
Phone:
(361) 575-6366
County:
Goliad, Victoria
Acreage:
500
Permit required:
$80, by drawing in August
Game:
Deer, feral hogs
Special regulations:
Archery only

Davy Crockett National Forest

Route 1, Box 55 FS
Kennard, TX 75847
Phone:
(936) 655-2299
County:
Houston, Trinity
Acreage:
162,012
Permit required:
Antlerless permits by drawing; call (936) 639-8569
Game:
Doves, quail, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl, deer

Georgetown Lake

500 Cedar Breaks Road
Georgetown, TX 78628
Phone:
(512) 930-5253
County:
Williamson
Acreage:
1,200
Permit required:
Corps permit
Game:
Doves, quail, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl, deer
Special regulations:
Archery only for deer; proficiency test and hunter certification required for deer hunts.

Grapevine Lake

110 Fairway Drive
Grapevine, TX 76051
Phone:
(817) 481-4544
County:
Denton
Acreage:
900
Permit required:
Drawings for quail, dove, feral hog and deer hunts; apply mid-July through November. Waterfowl permits first-come, first-served.
Game:
Doves, quail, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl, deer, feral hogs
Special regulations:
Archery only for deer and feral hogs; no muzzleloaders or crossbows. All hunters must have a hunter safety course certificate.

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge

6465 Refuge Road
Sherman, TX 75092
Phone:
(903) 786-2826
County:
Grayson
Acreage:
3,000
Permit required:
Self-registration for small game hunts. Drawing for deer hunts; fee required.
Game:
Doves, quail, feral hogs, squirrels, rabbits, deer
Special regulations:
Completion of IBEP classes and score of 80 percent on IBO 3-D course required only for deer hunt.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

P.O. Box 450
Rio Hondo, TX 78583
Phone:
(956) 748-3607
County:
Cameron
Acreage:
3,000
Permit required:
Obtain by mail or in person in August. $40 user fee for each hunt.
Game:
Deer, feral hogs, nilgai
Special regulations:
Archery, muzzleloader, and modern firearms hunts

Lake Meredith National Recreation Area

P.O. Box 1460
Fritch, TX 79036
Phone:
(806) 857-3151
County:
Potter, Moore
Acreage:
40,000
Permit required:
None
Game:
Turkeys, doves, quail, pheasants, rabbits, white-tailed deer, mule deer

Lake O' the Pines

2669 FM 726
Jefferson, TX 75657
Phone:
(903) 665-2336
County:
Camp, Marion, Morris, Harrison, Upshur
Acreage:
4,500
Permit required:
None
Game:
Doves, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl, feral hogs, deer
Special regulations:
Muzzleloaders and rifles are permitted. Antlerless deer may be taken during archery season only. No feral hog hunting May 15 through Aug. 31.

Lavon Lake

3375 Skyview Drive
Wylie, TX 75098
Phone:
(972) 442-3141
County:
Collin
Acreage:
6,500
Permit required:
None
Game:
Doves, quail, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl, feral hogs
Special regulations:
Archery only for feral hogs; no rifles

LBJ National Grasslands

1400 N. Hwy. US 81/US 287
P.O. Box 507
Decatur, TX 76234
Phone:
(940) 627-5475
County:
Wise, Montague
Acreage:
20,000
Permit required:
None
Game:
Feral hogs, deer, doves, quail, squirrels, rabbits, turkey
Special regulations:
Shotgun, muzzleloader and archery only

Lewisville Lake

1801 N. Mill St.
Lewisville, TX 75057
Phone:
(972) 434-1666
County:
Denton
Acreage:
8,000
Permit required:
Corps permit
Game:
Doves, quail, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl, feral hog
s
Special regulations:
Archery only for feral hogs; no hunting within 600 feet of the boundary line.

Livingston Lake

P.O. Box 60
Arlington, TX 76004
Phone:
(817) 467-434
3
County:
Polk, San Jacinto, Walker, Trinity, Houston, Madison
Acreage:
Varies with lake level
Permit required:
None
Game:
Waterfowl
Special regulations:
Hunting permitted 200 yards or more waterward from the boundary line at 131 feet mean sea-level elevation.

Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Route 2, Box 202A
Alamo, TX 78516
Phone:
(956) 784-7500
County:
Hidalgo, Willacy
Acreage:
4,000
Permit required:
Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR Special Use Permit. $25 for doves; $40 for big game.
Game:
Deer, feral hogs, nilgai, doves
Special regulations:
Big game gun hunts for youths only.

McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge

P.O. Box 609
Sabine Pass, TX 77655
Phone:
(409) 971-2909
County:
Chambers, Jefferson
Acreage:
21,000
Permit required:
$10 fee for some units
Game:
Waterfowl
Special regulations:
Hunters must be off the area by 12:30 p.m.

Navarro Mills Lake

1175 FM 667
Purdon, TX 76679
Phone:
(254) 578-1431
County:
Hill, Navarro
Acreage:
3,500
Permit required:
None
Game:
Doves, quail, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl, feral hogs
Special regulations:
Dogs may be used to hunt feral hogs only on the Hill County portion of the lake.

O.C. Fisher Lake/ASU Area

3900-2 Mercedes Ave.
San Angelo, TX 76901
Phone:
(915) 947-2687
County:
Tom Green
Acreage:
4,645
Permit required:
By drawing; apply to Deer Hunt Research Project, Box 10888, ASU Station, San Angelo 76909
Game:
Deer, turkeys
Special regulations:
Season as set by Angelo State University

Proctor Lake

2180 FM 2861
Comanche, TX 76442
Phone:
(254) 879-2424
County:
Comanche
Acreage:
2,500
Permit required:
Corps permit
Game:
Doves, quail, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl

Sabine National Forest

P.O. Box 227
Hemphill, TX 75948
Phone:
(409) 787-3870
(866) 235-1750 (toll-free)
County:
Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Newton
Acreage:
160,650
Permit required:
Annual Public Hunting Permit on WMA only; antlerless permits by drawing (not required during bow season); youth hunts available; call (936) 639-8569.
Game:
Deer, feral hogs, eastern turkeys, waterfowl, doves, squirrels, rabbits
Special regulations:
Part of the forest is within the Moore Plantation WMA; TPWD regulations apply there. Bag limit is one buck and two antlerless; dogs prohibited during deer season.

San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge

1212 N. Velasco, Ste. 200
Angleton, TX 77515
Phone:
(979) 849-7771
County:
Brazoria
Acreage:
27,414
Permit required:
Sargent hunt area only
Game:
Waterfowl
Special regulations:
$10 fee required for Sargent hunt area; call (979) 849-6062 for reservation. Hunters must return to check station by 12:30 p.m.

Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Route 3, Box 486
Jasper, TX 75951
Phone:
(409) 384-5716
County:
Angelina, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Sabine, San Augustine
Acreage:
6,000
Permit required:
None
Game:
Doves, quail, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl, deer, feral hogs
Special Regulations:
Antlerless deer may be taken during archery season only. Shotguns with slugs only for deer. Except for deer hunting, shotgunners must use No. 4 shot or smaller.

Somerville Lake / COE Area

P.O. Box 549
Somerville, TX 77879
Phone:
(979) 596-1622
County:
Burleson, Washington
Acreage:
3,000
Permit required:
Fee for permanent duck blinds only; assigned by drawing
Game:
Waterfowl

Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir

3740 FM 1670
Belton, TX 76513
Phone:
(254) 939-2461
County:
Bell
Acreage:
4,541
Permit required:
Waterfowl only
Game:
Doves, quail, waterfowl
Special regulations:
Free waterfowl permit must be obtained from lake office; no hunting within 600 feet of boundary, parks and residential areas.

Texas Point National Wildlife Refuge

P.O. Box 609
Sabine Pass, TX 77655
Phone:
(409) 971-2909
County:
Jefferson
Acreage:
4,000
Permit required:
Free
Game:
Waterfowl
Special regulations:
Hunters must be off the area by 12:30 p.m.

Texoma Lake U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

351 Corps Road
Denison, TX 75020
Phone:
(903) 465-4990
County:
Cook, Grayson
Acreage:
80,000 (in Texas and Oklahoma)
Permit required:
None
Game:
Quail, doves, squirrels, rabbits, deer
Special regulations:
Deer hunting by archery only in Grayson County

Town Bluff and B.A. Steinhagen Lake / COE Area

890 FM 92
Woodville, TX 75979
Phone:
(409) 429-3491
County:
Jasper, Tyler
Acreage:
875
Permit required:
None
Game:
Doves, quail, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl, deer, feral hogs
Special regulations:
Hog hunting allowed only during deer season. Muzzleloaders are allowed. Does can be taken only during archery season.

Truscott Brine Lake, Area VIII

13173 CR 2631
Crowell, TX 79260
Phone:
(940) 474-3293
County:
Knox
Acreage:
2,000
Permit required:
None
Game:
Doves, quail, waterfowl, feral hogs
Special regulations:
Shotgun and archery only; no crossbows allowed.

Waco Lake

3801 Zoo Park Road
Waco, TX 76708
Phone:
(254) 756-5359
County:
McLennan
Acreage:
2,000
Permit required:
Corps permit
Game:
Doves, squirrels, rabbits, feral hogs, waterfowl, deer, turkeys
Special regulations:
Computer drawing for permits; application may be obtained in lake office.

Wallisville Project

P.O. Box 293
Wallisville, TX 77597
Phone:
(409) 389-2285
County:
Chambers, Liberty
Acreage:
19,000
Permit required:
For stationary blinds only
Game:
Waterfowl
Special regulations:
Only authorized persons may use stationary blinds. All blinds must be removed within 30 days after close of season. No hunting after noon. No extended deer season.

Whitney Lake/ COE Area

285 CR 3602
Clifton, TX 76634
Phone:
(254) 694-3189
County:
Bosque, Hill, Johnson
Acreage:
14,000
Permit required:
Corps permit
Game:
Doves, quail, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl, deer, feral hogs, turkeys
Special regulations:
Deer hunting by archery only. All hunters must register in advance. No shot larger than No. 4, except No. 2 steel shot for waterfowl. Rifles, handguns, crossbows and muzzleloaders are prohibited.

Wright Patman Dam and Lake

P.O. Box 1817
Texarkana, TX 75504
Phone:
(903) 838-8781
County:
Bowie, Cass
Acreage:
54,358
Permit required:
Required to hunt ATV-accessible areas
Game:
Doves, quail, squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl, deer, feral hogs, eastern turkeys
Special regulations:
Antlerless deer may be taken during archery season only.

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