Only two weeks remain until the first shots are fired in what is expected to be another promising dove season in most of Texas.
Sept. 1 also marks the start of a new fiscal year for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It is the day new hunting, fishing and boating regulations voted in earlier this year by the TPW Commission and the 86th Texas Legislature go into effect.
Sept. 1 also brings about some legal business for more than two million sportsmen who purchase the various licenses, stamps and permits required to hunt and fish in Texas.
Most current licenses and stamp endorsements will expire at midnight on Aug. 31. Dove hunters are required to have a new hunting license and migratory bird stamp before they head to the field on the morning of Sept. 1.
The same conditions apply for fishermen. You can’t legally wet a hook in most public waters after Aug. 31 without a new license unless you are exempt from licensing requirements, purchased a special “Year from Purchase” fishing license during the last 12 months or bought a Lake Texoma fishing license, which is valid until Dec. 31.
TPWD allows constituents plenty of leeway to get licensing obligations fulfilled ahead of time. Licenses went on sale Thursday at around 1,700 retail outlets, including gun shops, sporting goods stores, bait houses, tackle shops, marinas and TPWD offices and state parks.
Licenses also can be purchased via TPWD’s website or by phone at 800-895-4248, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Online purchases require an approved credit card with an additional $5 administrative fee assessed for each transaction. Most licenses are valid at the time of purchase.
Proof of license can be satisfied using an electronic image of the license, with an email receipt, by accessing online license accounts or by using a couple of free phone apps.
The exception is a license used when hunting animals requiring a tag such as deer and turkey. Hunters must wait until the license tags are physically in their possession before taking a deer or turkey unless they are hunting on a property using managed lands deer permits or another special permit, according to Stormy King, TPWD assistant commander of wildlife enforcement. Licenses purchased online should arrive by mail within 7-10 days of purchase.
Buying online is convenient, but there is always an inherent risk of a computer glitch or some other flaw that could delay the timely delivery of licenses and permits.
TPWD maintains a full list of vendors, searchable by city, on its website. There also is a list of frequently asked questions regarding licensing requirements.
Shop early, take survey
It’s always wise to do your license shopping early. Wait until the afternoon before dove season gets underway and there is a good chance of running into a long line of procrastinators.
Be sure to bring along proper identification when purchasing your new license. Also, make sure the license clerk performs the Harvest Information Program Certification survey before printing the paperwork.
Completing the HIP survey consists of answering a few questions about how many migratory birds (dove, ducks, geese, etc.) you shot last year. The information is used to help the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service gather harvest data that is useful in managing migratory bird populations and in setting limits from one year to the next. HIP certification is federally mandated for hunting migratory birds in Texas.
Texas has some of the nation’s best outdoor opportunities, and the license fees sportsmen pay to enjoy them are nominal compared with the high quality of the goods. It’s encouraging to know the cost of hunting and fishing licenses have remained unchanged for a decade now.
The last time there was a general increase in Texas license fees was Sept. 1, 2009 — the start of fiscal year 2010. Fees increased 5% across the board on everything from standard hunting and fishing licenses to boat registration and titles.
The price hike resulted in a $4 increase in the cost of TPWD’s most popular license package — the Super Combo — which went from $64 to $68.
Your money at work
Hunting and fishing are big business in Texas. In fiscal year 2018, there were roughly 3.1 million licenses, permits, stamps and tags purchased by outdoors enthusiasts around the state. The sales generated about $102.7 million in revenue, according to Ken Kurzawski, manager of regulations and information with TPWD’s inland fisheries division.
License fees are used to help fund fish stockings, wildlife management, habitat restoration, land conservation, game wardens and other TPWD operating expenses. In fiscal year 2018, the state agency had a total operating budget of about $469.2 million, Kurzawski said.
TPWD’s resident licensing framework is structured so hunters/anglers can tailor purchases to suit specific needs.
If you hunt but don’t fish, you can buy just a hunting license for $25, plus any necessary stamp endorsements for the game you intend to hunt. There are licenses for sportsmen who only fish.
A hunting license is required of all Texas hunters. The only exceptions are for those hunting nuisance coyotes, feral hogs and some furbearers.
The 86th Legislature eliminated licensing requirements for hunting feral hogs earlier this year, but King said hunters should be aware that the blanket licensing exemption may or may not be applicable on some public lands.
“While there may be area-specific regulations, generally, the blanket exemption does not apply to public land,” King said. “It’s best to check with the managing entity ahead of time.”
The best deal going for serious sportsmen who hunt and fish is the Super Combo license package. The Super Combo is always TPWD’s most popular seller. It includes resident hunting and fishing licenses and all the stamp endorsements required for fishing in fresh and saltwater, hunting with archery gear and hunting upland game birds and migratory birds.
Kurzawski said there were 439,348 Super Combo licenses sold last year.
The Super Combo’s $68 price tag represents an $18 savings over buying the two licenses and multiple stamps separately. However, it does not include the cost of a $25 federal duck stamp or a $48 annual public hunting permit.
The APHP — also available where licenses are sold — is a bargain for hunters on a budget. The permit provides year-round access to public hunting lands totaling more than one million acres, including several TPWD wildlife management areas. Additionally, the permit allows for dove and small game hunting on more than 100 properties that will be included in TPWD’s private lands dove lease program this fall. The department will have 112 properties totaling more than 42,500 acres in the program this year, according to Kelly Edmiston, TPWD public hunts coordinator.
Matt Williams is a freelance writer based in Nacogdoches. He can be reached by email, email@example.com.
TPWD hunting/fishing license options
Here’s is list of the more popular options to consider when it comes time to ante up of new licenses for 2019-20:
Resident hunting: $25
Senior resident hunting: $7, valid only for residents 65 and older. Valid to hunt any legal bird or animal. Stamp endorsement requirements apply.
Youth hunting license: $7, valid for any person, resident or non-resident, under 17 at time of purchase. Exempt from state stamp requirements, except for reptile and amphibian stamp.
Non-resident general hunting: $315, valid to hunt any legal bird or animal (including deer). Stamp endorsement requirements apply.
Non-resident spring turkey: $126
Resident trapper: $19
Hunting lease license: $79, up to 499 acres; $147, 500 to 999 acres; $252, 1,000 acres or more. Required of a landowner or landowner’s agent who leases hunting rights to another person on property they own or control for pay or other consideration. The license must be displayed on the property.
Archery stamp: $7
Texas migratory game bird stamp: $7
Upland game bird stamp: $7
Federal duck stamp: $25
Resident Combination Packages
Hunting and freshwater fishing: $50
Hunting and saltwater fishing: $55
Hunting and all-water fishing: $60
Senior hunting and freshwater fishing: $16
Senior hunting and saltwater fishing: $21
Senior hunting and all-water fishing: $26
Resident Fishing Licenses
Freshwater package: $30
Saltwater package: $35
All-Water package: $40
Senior freshwater package: $12
Senior saltwater package: $17
Senior all-water package: $22
Special resident all-water license (for legally blind): $7
Year from Purchase all-water package: $47
One-day all-water license: $11
Fishing Stamp Endorsements
Freshwater fishing stamp: $5
Saltwater fishing stamp: $10