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Texas Hunting: Lawful Means and Methods

Motor Vehicles and Boats

  • Private Property: Hunters can legally use motor vehicles, powerboats, sailboats, or other floating devices to hunt animals and non-migratory game birds, but only within the confines of private property or upon private waters.

Calling Devices

  • Usage: It is permissible to use manual, mouth-operated, recordings, and electrically amplified calling devices to attract game animals and game birds.
  • Restrictions: Electronic calls are generally prohibited for hunting migratory game birds, with the exception during the Light Goose Conservation Order season.

Decoys

  • Allowed: Decoys are a legal and widely used method for hunting game animals and game birds.
  • Live Decoys: The use of live decoys is prohibited when hunting migratory game birds.

Baiting

  • General Rule: Baiting is allowed for hunting game animals, nongame animals, and upland game birds, with notable exceptions.
  • Exceptions: Baiting is unlawful for Eastern Turkey and all migratory game birds. Additionally, baiting regulations on public property may vary, and it's important to check specific rules for the area.

Trapping

  • Exotic and Nongame Animals: On private property, individuals may trap nongame and exotic animals, such as feral hogs and rabbits. Trapping regulations are designed to manage populations and protect ecosystems.

Use of Dogs

  • Hunting Aids: Dogs may be used to aid in hunting any game bird. They are often used for tracking, pointing, flushing, or retrieving games.

Unlawful Hunting Activities in Texas

Property and Safety Regulations

  • Projectile Crossing: Discharging a firearm that causes a projectile to cross property lines without owning both sides or having written permission is illegal.
  • Public Roads: It's unlawful to discharge a firearm on or across public roads or to hunt from them.

Technological Restrictions

  • Remote Hunting: Using computers or remote-operated facilities for hunting animals located in Texas is prohibited.
  • Artificial Light: Hunting with artificial light illuminating game animals or birds is generally prohibited, with specific exceptions for hunters with legal blindness or permanent physical disabilities. Such individuals must adhere to specific documentation and assistance requirements.

Equipment and Method Restrictions

  • Battery-Powered Scoping Devices: While general artificial light for hunting is restricted, hunters may use battery-powered scoping devices that project light or dot only inside the scope and pin sight lights on archery equipment.
  • Traps: Using traps to hunt game birds or game animals is unlawful.
  • Dogs: Using dogs to hunt deer is prohibited. Specific rules apply to using dogs for trailing wounded deer, including limitations on the number of dogs and leash requirements in certain counties.

Aircraft and Drones

  • Usage: Utilizing aircraft, including drones, to hunt, locate, manage, harass, drive, trap, or photograph any wild animal is illegal without a specific permit.

Public Hunting Areas and Local Ordinances

  • Permits Required: Hunting in Public Hunting Areas without the required permits is prohibited.
  • Local Regulations: Hunting in subdivisions, wildlife sanctuaries, or areas prohibited by local or county ordinances is unlawful. This includes hunting on small lots in unincorporated areas or hunting by prohibited means or methods.

Water and Roadway Regulations

  • Submerged Lands: Hunting on privately-owned land submerged under public freshwater or saltwater without proper posting is prohibited.
  • Public Roads and Waterways: Hunting any wild animal or bird on foot or from a vehicle on public roads or road right-of-way, or a boat on public water is generally prohibited, with specific exceptions for hunting migratory waterfowl under certain conditions.

Firearm Possession Restrictions

  • Convicted Felons: Felons are generally prohibited from possessing firearms, with limited exceptions for antique or curio muzzleloading firearms manufactured before 1899 or replicas thereof.

Unlawful Hunting Practices in Designated Texas Areas

Specific County Restrictions

  1. Aransas River and Poesta Creek in Bee County, Riverbeds in La Salle, McMullen, and Live Oak Counties:

    • Firearm and Archery Restrictions: Possession, shooting, or hunting with firearms or any archery equipment is unlawful in designated lands and waters, except for waterfowl hunting on certain government-operated reservoirs.
  2. Navigable Rivers and Streams:

    • Discharge Restrictions: Generally, discharging firearms or shooting arrows on the bed or bank of navigable rivers or streams is prohibited. Exceptions include fishing with archery equipment, lawful alligator hunting, and using shotguns loaded with shot (excluding slugs). Additional exemptions are provided for landowners or agents taking venomous snakes and non-indigenous rodents.
  3. Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir and Adjacent Federal Lands in Bell County:

    • Hunting Restrictions: Hunting is restricted to game birds with shotguns, and hunters must maintain a distance of 600 feet from the nearest private property.

Chambers and Liberty Counties Regulations

  1. Wallisville Reservoir, Lake Anahuac, Trinity River:

    • Discharge Restrictions: Discharging pistols or rifles is prohibited in, on, along, or across specified waters and reservoirs.
  2. Oyster Bayou in Chambers County:

    • Crossbow and Bow Restrictions: Discharging any firearm or shooting any crossbow or bow and arrow is prohibited on, along, or across the waters of Oyster Bayou from State Hwy. 65 south to the mouth in the East Bay.

Harris County Regulations

  • Hunting on Private Land:
    • Written Consent Requirement: Hunting wild animals, wild birds, or target shooting on another's land requires immediate possession of written consent from the landowner. This consent must include specific details about the hunter, the land, and the landowner or agent's contact information. Exemptions apply to the owner or agent and those using public or private shooting ranges.

Texas Hunting Firearms Regulations

General Firearm Use

  • Legal Firearms: Game animals and non-migratory game birds may be hunted with any legal firearm, with a few specific exceptions and conditions noted below.

Restrictions and Specifications

  1. Rimfire Ammunition:

    • Prohibition: Rimfire ammunition of any caliber is not allowed for hunting white-tailed deer, mule deer, desert bighorn sheep, or pronghorn. This is likely due to the insufficient stopping power and ethical considerations in ensuring a humane harvest.
  2. Fully Automatic Firearms:

    • Restriction: Fully automatic firearms are prohibited for hunting. This aligns with broader safety and ethical hunting practices.
  3. Shotguns During Spring Eastern Turkey Season:

    • Exclusive Use: Shotguns are the only legal firearms during the spring Eastern turkey season. This regulation is likely in place to ensure the safety and effective management of turkey populations.
  4. Magazine Capacity:

    • No Restrictions: There are no restrictions on the number of shells or cartridges a legal firearm may hold when hunting game animals or non-migratory game birds. However, for migratory game birds, hunters should refer to legal shotgun specifications.
  5. Muzzleloaders:

    • Specific Seasons: During designated muzzleloader deer seasons, only muzzleloading firearms are permitted. These firearms must be loaded from the muzzle end.
    • Definition: A muzzleloader is any firearm where the projectile and powder are loaded directly into the muzzle. Note that a cap and ball firearm where the components are loaded into a cylinder is not considered a muzzleloader for these purposes.
  6. Suppressors (Silencers):

    • Use: Suppressors may be used for hunting any wildlife resource in Texas.
    • Legal Compliance: While legal for hunting, all relevant federal, state, and local laws governing the ownership and use of suppressors continue to apply.

Texas Hunting with Air Guns and Arrow Guns

Applicable Game

  • Permissible Use: Alligators, game animals, furbearers, squirrels, and non-migratory game birds (except eastern turkey) can be hunted with air guns and arrow guns, adhering to specific criteria for different species.

Specifications and Conditions

  1. Pre-charged Pneumatic Arrow Guns and Air Guns:

    • Applicable Species: They can be used to hunt alligators, bighorn sheep, javelina, mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, and turkey (except eastern turkey).
    • Specifications: These guns must be pre-charged pneumatic types, indicating they use compressed air as the propellant.
  2. Air Gun Projectile and Energy Requirements:

    • Caliber and Weight: Pre-charged pneumatic air guns must fire a projectile of at least .30 caliber and 150 grains in weight.
    • Muzzle Velocity: A minimum muzzle velocity of 800 feet per second is required, or a combination of bullet weight and velocity producing at least 215 foot-pounds of energy.
  3. Air Gun Use for Smaller Games:

    • Squirrels and Birds: For hunting smaller game like squirrels, pheasant, quail, and chachalaca, air guns should fire a projectile of at least .177 caliber (4.5mm) with a muzzle velocity of at least 600 feet per second.
  4. Arrow and Bolt Standards:

    • Conformity: Arrows or bolts used with an arrow gun must adhere to the same standards required for projectiles in archery.
    • Restrictions: Arrow guns are not allowed for hunting deer or wild turkey during the archery season, maintaining the integrity and tradition of archery hunting.

Texas Archery and Crossbow Regulations

Lawful Archery Equipment

  • Types Allowed: Lawful archery equipment includes compound bows, crossbows, longbows, and recurved bows. These are the primary tools permitted for the archery hunting of game animals and birds.
  • No Minimum Draw Requirement: There is no state-mandated minimum draw weight for longbows, compound bows, or recurved bows, offering flexibility for hunters of varying strengths and ages.
  • Enhancements: Lighted pins, sight magnification, overdraw rests, and devices that allow a bow to be locked at full or partial draw are all legal, providing hunters the advantage of technology for accuracy and ease.

Crossbow Specifics

  • Disability Accommodations: In certain counties (Collin, Dallas, Grayson, and Rockwall), hunters with an upper-limb disability may use a crossbow during the Archery-Only Open Season if they possess a physician’s statement certifying the disability.
  • Archery Endorsement: To hunt deer during the Archery-Only Open Season, an archery endorsement is required. This rule extends to any deer hunting in the specified counties during any season, including the general open season.
  • General Use: Outside of these specific restrictions, any person, regardless of physical ability, can use a crossbow to hunt game animals or game birds during a general open season or Eastern spring turkey season.

Projectiles (Arrows and Crossbow Bolts)

  • Prohibitions: Projectiles cannot be poisoned, drugged, or explosive. This ensures ethical hunting practices and animal welfare.
  • Broadheads Required: For hunting turkey and all game animals except squirrels, the projectile must be equipped with a broadhead hunting point. Hunters may carry other types of points in their quiver, but broadheads are required for the actual take.
  • Flexibility in Specifications: There are no specific state regulations on arrow or bolt lengths, materials, weight, lighted nocks, broadhead size or material, or the type of mechanical broadheads. This allows hunters to choose equipment based on their preferences, needs, and the specific hunting situation.

Falconry

Please contact (512) 389-4481 for information on falconry permitting and regulations or see Wildlife Diversity falconry permits information.  See migratory game bird regulations for open seasons and daily bag limits.

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.