AUSTIN – The general white-tailed deer and Rio Grande turkey season closed in most parts of the state on New Year’s Day, but that doesn’t mean hunters with unused tags are out of luck. Special youth-only and late season opportunities start today and run through Jan. 15.
The two-week youth-only late season is open in all counties where there is a general open season for white-tailed deer or a fall hunting season for Rio Grande turkey. All legal hunting means and methods are allowed, except in Collin, Dallas, Grayson, and Rockwall counties, where hunting is only allowed with archery equipment and crossbows. Only licensed hunters 16 years of age or younger may hunt deer during a youth-only season and hunter education requirements still apply. Be sure to check the county-specific harvest restrictions in the Outdoor Annual.
Youth-only open season provides young hunters with opportunities to learn about wildlife conservation through an enjoyable and memorable outdoor experience allowing parents and mentors to introduce them to safe and responsible hunting.
During the special late white-tailed deer season in 106 counties in the North Zone and 30 in the South Zone, harvest is restricted to antlerless and unbranched antlered deer only. The late season provides additional opportunity for landowners and managers to attain deer harvest goals on their property.
The special muzzleloader-only season provides an opportunity for hunters in 90 counties to pursue white-tailed deer with primitive firearms. A muzzleloader is any firearm that is loaded only through the muzzle. A cap and ball firearm in which the powder and ball are loaded into a cylinder is not a muzzleloader. Muzzleloader deer seasons are restricted to muzzleloading firearms only.
Hunters are reminded the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department continues to accept harvested deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD) sampling as part of the state’s ongoing monitoring program. Since March 2016, the department has sampled more than 8,500 susceptible species, including whitetails, mule deer and elk. Information about CWD, including options for providing harvested deer for sampling, can be found online at http://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/diseases/cwd/.