PORT ARTHUR —
No state has more unique hunting than Texas.
We really have something special here with the nation’s largest whitetail, feral hog and wild turkey populations.
There are however some huntable species (not including our myriad exotics) that get little attention in the media.
Although few hunters get to pursue them, the desert bighorn is a huntable species in the state. Once eradicated in its native range of the Trans Pecos, they are now restored to a high enough number to allow draw-only hunts and are continually being stocked and monitored.
The return of the bighorn is in large part due to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) efforts combined with that of the Texas Bighorn Society.
Sandhills are one of the most unique game animals found in the state. Migrating from Canada, they are called the “sirloin of the sky” for their fine breast meat but are a vastly underutilized resource.
A Federal Sandhill Crane Hunting Permit is required to hunt Sandhill Cranes, in addition to a valid Texas hunting license, Texas Migratory Game Bird Stamp Endorsement, and HIP Certification. The Federal Sandhill Crane Hunting Permit can be obtained in person only at TPWD Law Enforcement offices and TPWD headquarters in Austin, but also is available by phone at (800) 792-1112 (Option 7, menu 7) or 512-389-4820, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday or through Online Sales.
For phone and online orders, a confirmation number will be issued in lieu of a permit. A $5 administrative fee will be charged for online orders. Permittees should keep a record of hunting activities because 26 percent of crane hunters are chosen for a federal harvest survey.
Very few hunters are aware Texas has a small but huntable population of pronghorn antelope.
According to TPWD, pronghorn antelope occupy approximately 14 million acres in the Trans-Pecos, High Plans, Rolling Plains, and Edwards Plateau Ecological Regions with about 70 percent occurring in the Trans-Pecos region. Population levels in the Trans-Pecos from 1978 to 2000 have changed significantly from a high of 17,000 animals in the mid-to-late 80s to a low of 5,200 animals in year 2000.
“Because antelope live in sensitive habitats, TPWD regulates harvest through hunt permits to provide maximum sustained yield without deleterious effects on the resource. Issuance of antelope hunt permits has paralleled the population decline through time, and it is the reduction of these hunt permits that have caught the attention of the hunting public.”
Texas has a decent mule deer population with around 200,000 reside within our borders in the Trans Pecos and Panhandle. According to Dale Rollins with Texas Agrilife, during the 1950s and 1960s, mule deer were transplanted into the Palo Duro Canyon and surrounding areas of the “caprock” and have since become well established.
Demand for hunting access is high so muley hunting can be expensive, however a big Texas buck is a highly prized trophy.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on GETV.org)