A Place to Hunt
Celebrating the silver anniversary of TPWD’s Public Hunting Program.
By Steve Lightfoot
It’s 4 a.m. on a cool, drizzling November morning, and the line of people looks like a scene from a Black Friday sale. But these folks are checking in, not checking out. It’s the first week of duck hunting season, and this scene is being replicated at nearly a dozen public hunting areas along the Texas coast. Waterfowlers sign in and make their way into the marsh to set up decoy spreads for the morning hunt. For the price of dinner and a movie, these hunters will get the chance to experience some of the best duck hunting anywhere.
For hunters who do not have access to privately owned land, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department provides low-cost access to thousands of acres of department-managed lands for hunting, including most wildlife management areas, some state parks and many leased properties. Access to those properties is available to hunters who purchase an Annual Public Hunting (APH) permit.
This hunting season, the TPWD Public Hunting Program recognizes 25 years of public hunting opportunities offered by the APH permit. Since 1987, more than 817,000 hunters have taken advantage of affordable access to public hunting land. With more than 95 percent of hunting land in Texas in private hands, the APH permit has been and will continue to be a valuable resource for people looking for access to the outdoors, whether for hunting, fishing, bird watching, hiking or photography.
The APH permit costs $48 and is valid from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31 of the following year. It allows hunting on designated properties for a variety of species, including doves, squirrels, rabbits, white-tailed deer, feral hogs, turkeys, predators and furbearers, without having to pay a daily fee. Equipped with the appropriate Texas hunting licenses and stamps, permit holders may take kids under age 17 hunting for free on these areas. Just remember, a Texas hunting license and adult supervision are always required for youth participants.
A new online map feature allows for “virtual scouting” of public hunting areas. You can follow links to detailed aerial maps, Google Earth imagery, APH permit information and maps found in the map booklet.
Permits are conveniently available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, online at www.tpwd.state.tx.us or by calling (800) TX-LIC-4U. There is a $5 convenience fee for online and phone purchases. If the permit is purchased at a TPWD office, the public hunting lands map book will be provided immediately at the time of purchase; otherwise, the publications will be mailed to the purchaser within two weeks.
For more articles on hunting, check out TP&W magazine's Hunting Page.