Thinking about venturing out into the Texas wilderness to catch some game? With the abundance and variety of wildlife in Texas, it’s a much sought-after place to go hunting. But because wildlife varies so much, there are several rules and regulations that you’ll want to become familiar with before you go out on the hunt.
In this article, we’ll walk through the basic hunting laws in Texas, including what kind of animals you can look forward to hunting and the specific rules that apply to them.
Texas Hunting Rules and Regulations
Let’s start with the basics. This isn’t a complete and comprehensive list of Texas hunting laws, but it will definitely get you started.
For a complete list and to get the official Texas hunting law app, visit https://tpwd.texas.gov/regulations/outdoor-annual/hunting/.
Hunter Education in Texas
Most states require some form of hunter education, and Texas is no exception. In Texas, every hunter born after September 2, 1971, must complete a Hunter Education Course–this includes out-of-state hunters.
Certification is not required to purchase a hunting license, but you must have proof of certification or a deferral for your certification on your person while you are hunting. The minimum age for hunter certification in Texas is 9 years old.
Purchase a Hunting License
A hunting license is required for any person (of any age) to hunt any animal in Texas, except under the following circumstances:
- Coyotes if they are attacking, are about to attack, or have recently attacked livestock or domestic animals
- Feral hogs on private property (must have landowner authorization)
- Fur-bearing animals if the hunter has a commercial trapper’s license
Additional endorsements beyond your hunting license may be required depending on your activity. Here are a few of the endorsements you may need to obtain:
- Archery Endorsement
- Migratory Game Bird Endorsement
- Upland Game Bird Endorsement
- Reptile and Amphibian Endorsement
- Federal Duck Stamp
Learn more here.
Personal Identification Required
Along with your education certificate, any person 17 years of age or older must carry a valid driver’s license or personal identification certificate issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety. If your residence is outside of Texas, you must carry a valid ID from your state or country.
Waste of Game
If you fail to make a reasonable effort to retrieve a game bird or animal that you have injured while hunting, that is a Class C misdemeanor. It is also an offense if you intentionally take a game bird, animal, or fish and don’t keep the edible portions in edible condition.
Retrieval of Game and Hunting Dogs
Regardless of circumstance, trespassing is still trespassing. You must have landowner consent to enter any private property to pursue wounded game or retrieve your dog.
Sale of Inedible Animal Parts
Inedible wildlife animal parts may be sold or purchased if they were lawfully possessed. Some of these parts include:
- Hide, hair, antlers, bones, skulls, horns, hooves, or sinew from the following animals: mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, desert bighorn sheep, fox squirrels, gray squirrels, and javelina
- Feathers, feet, or bones of game birds
Migratory birds and their parts are not allowed to be sold or purchased for ornamental or decorative purposes.
Legal Game Regulations in Texas
In Texas, like most states, there are only certain types of animals you are allowed to hunt. Make sure you are familiar with the current laws and what the legal game is for that year. If a species is not listed in the legal game legend for Texas, it is not allowed to be hunted. Here are the current legal game at the time of this article:
- White-tailed Deer
- Feral Hogs
- Sandhill Crane
- Rail, Snipe, Gallinule, and Woodcock
- Predators (bobcats and coyotes only)
- Rabbits and Hares
Unlawful Activities while Hunting in Texas
It is just as important to know what is legal as it is to know what is not legal while you are hunting in Texas. Here are some of the unlawful activities that you should be aware of:
- Taking or possessing wildlife resources other than as indicated by the Texas hunting law
- Hunting on public roads, with the exception of specific reptiles and amphibians
- Storing, transporting, or abandoning an unsecured firearm where children can access it
- Driving a motorized vehicle through the bed of a navigable freshwater stream, unless otherwise allowed by a local river access plan
- Fishing on privately-owner waters or hunting on private land without the landowner’s consent
- Fishing in public water from private land without a fishing license
- Discharging a firearm on or across a public road
- Possessing a deer or any part of it that has been hit by a motor vehicle
Hunting Laws for Different Animals in Texas
In Texas, the wildlife varies a lot, and as such, there are laws that pertain to specific types of animals as you engage in hunting and trapping activities. Here are some species-specific laws to take note of.
Feral hogs have become a nuisance over the years. They are a non-native species that cause damage to property, and as such, there are specific laws in Texas for hogs that you should know.
- It is prohibited to snare or trap feral hogs unless under contract with the department or cooperating landowner.
- It is prohibited to use a dog to hunt feral hogs unless specifically allowed in the Legal Game Legend on a unit map.
- Shooting hours for feral hogs are restricted to daylight hours only unless otherwise specified for a certain unit.
- As of September 1, 2019, it became legal to hunt feral hogs without a hunting license on private property. You must have landowner consent to do so.
Frogs and bullfrogs
There is a limit for hunting frogs and bullfrogs: you may only catch 25 per 24-hour period (midnight to midnight).
Texas turkey hunting laws include the following:
- It is unlawful to hunt roosting turkeys at any time
- It is unlawful to release turkeys without department authorization
- All turkeys must be tagged with a tag from the hunter’s license immediately upon harvest
- You are required to have the Upland Game Bird Endorsement to hunt turkey
- Harvest reporting is mandatory for wild turkeys in all counties (this can be done on the app or online)
Black bears are a protected species and may not be harmed or killed. If you see a black bear during your hunt, Texas authorities ask that you report any sightings to the appropriate wildlife district office.
For an all-comprehensive list of laws specific to each animal you are allowed to hunt in Texas, please visit tpwd.texas.gov.
Storing Your Hunting Gear
As we’ve pointed out, it is unlawful in Texas to leave your firearms unsecured where a child can gain access to them, so it’s important to have a plan in place to store and secure your firearms while you are not using them. We can help!
At Liberty Safe, we have made it our mission to provide the most reliable home and gun safes on the market. With plenty of long gun storage and top security features, you can rest assured knowing that your guns are secured and your family is safe. Take a look at our top gun safes today!