, Port Arthur, Texas

September 19, 2012

Chester Moore column: Deer season just around corner

Chester Moore
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — In fact, the archery-only season opens Sept. 29 and we are less than six weeks away from the general season.

As we enter the woods, there are bunches of regulations that we must adhere to and even most wildlife officials today would admit that is not always the easiest thing to do for the casual hunter.

The following are some regulations as well as definitions that are important for whitetail hunters to know.

These are directly from the primary enforcement agency for wildlife, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) with my commentary mixed in.

• A "buck deer" is a deer with a hardened antler protruding through the skin. A "spike buck deer" is a buck with no antler having more than one point. All other deer are antlerless deer. A spike buck must be tagged with a buck deer tag from the hunter's hunting license or applicable permit.

• Antler restrictions apply only in certain counties which are available for viewing in the regulation guide you can get with a license purchase and the TPWD website. These include all Southeast Texas counties.

In these counties, the bag limit is two legal bucks, but only one may have an inside spread of 13 inches or greater.

“A legal buck deer is defined as having a hardened antler protruding through the skin and at least one unbranched antler an inside spread measurement between main beams of 13 inches or greater.”

To picture an “unbranched antler” think of a spike buck. That would be the classic case but you can have a buck with three points on one side and one that is essentially a spike horn. That would be a deer with at least one unbranched antler. At least that is the easiest way for me to think of it.

In these counties, it is unlawful to take more than one buck with an inside spread of 13 inches or greater. In other words you could shoot a big 15-inch buck and a spike and be ok but could not take two 15-inchers.

Have you ever considered the definition of a “point”? TPWD has a very specific definition.

‘‘A point is a projection that extends at least one inch from the edge of a main beam or another tine. The tip of the main beam is also a point.”

There are various safety requirements involved including the use of blaze orange clothing.

All persons on public hunting lands (state, national forests, and grasslands) during daylight hours when hunting with firearms is permitted must wear at least 400 square inches of hunter orange material with orange headgear, and at least 144 square inches appearing on both chest and back.

Exempt from these requirements are persons hunting turkey, migratory birds, alligators, or desert bighorn sheep; persons within the enclosed passenger compartment of a motor vehicle; or persons within a designated campground, designated vehicle parking area, designated boat launching facility, or departmental check station.

Federal lands also have other restrictions involving doe permits and accessing certain areas so familiarize yourself with the area’s regulations before hunting there.

In terms of bag limits, except for deer taken under MLD permits, no person may take more than five white-tailed deer or more than three bucks (all seasons combined) in one license year according to TPWD. Some counties have very specific limits so make sure and check before you hunt a new area.

For bowhunters, remember a permit is not required to take antlerless deer during an Archery Only Season, except on MLD properties. If MLD Permits have been issued to the property, they must be used.

Going deer hunting is not just a matter of getting a license and going out to the woods. It is important to know the law so you do not get yourself in trouble and spoil a perfectly good hunting season.

(Write Chester Moore at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at