The feature Texas game animal is the white-tailed deer, found almost statewide, but most densely on the Hill Country of Central Texas where they live in great numbers than anywhere else in the nation. Mule deer and pronghorns are found in West Texas and the Panhandle. Other wild animals include javelinas, wild boars, feral hogs and squirrels.
Game birds include a great variety of migratory waterfowl that winter in Texas, plus wild turkey, bobwhite and blue quail, mourning, white-tipped, and white-winged doves, pheasants, prairie chickens, sandhill cranes and chachalacas.
Of unusual interest are several ranches where exotic game animals are stocked fro year-round hunting. Among popular species are Indian blackbuck antelope, wild Corsican rams, African aoudad sheep, axis and sika deer.
Hunting in Texas can be very rewarding, though requiring some special arrangements for the nonresident. Texas has four large areas of public lands (national forests) in the eastern part of the state freely accessible for hunting. The Texas parks and Wildlife Department offers a variety of public hunting opportunities on over one million acres of land under its control in which people may participate either through purchase of an annual permit, daily permit, or selection in a drawing. Almost all of the lands are privately owned, requiring permission from the landowner before entering or hunting.
The situation has given rise to the hunting lease system: fees paid landowners for permission to hunt. Some leases may be had on a daily basis. A central list of leases and public hunting information is available from the Parks&Wildlife Department.
All persons intending to hunt are recommended to obtain a current copy of the free pamphlet, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Outdoor Annual, from the Texas Parks&Wildlife Department in Austin, Texas. The guide provides seasonal dates, size, bag and possession limits, and special provisions of hunting laws. Licenses are sold at most sporting goods and trackle stores, discount department stores, and Park&Wildlife Dept. offices. All annual licenses are valid from September 1 through the following August 31, no matter when purchased.
A hunting license is required for all Texas citizens. Texans under 17 and over 65, and nonresidents under 17, are all eligible for a low-priced Special Resident Hunting License. The licenses required for hunting are:
- nonresident general hunting. It is valid for all game species. Nonresidents under 17 qualify for a low-priced Special Resident Hunting License;
- nonresident small game. It is valid for nongame animals and all game birds, except turkey; not valid for game species except squirrels and javalina. Nonresidents under 17 qualify for a low-priced Special Resident Hunting License;
- nonresident spring turkey license. It is valid to hunt turkey only during open spring season; no stamp is required;
- turkey stamp. It is required in addition to license except as noted;
- Texas waterfowl stamp. It is required in addition to license;
- White-winged dove stamp. It is required in addition to license;
- Archery stamp;
- Muzzleloader stamp.
Their cost depends on the duration of the license and stamps; annual one is cheaper than the temporary one. Licenses and stamps for nonresidents are more expensive than for residents of Texas. The costs are subject to change without notice. So it is better to check them beforehand.