Lease of Private Lands for Management Deer Hunts
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department currently offers public hunting on approximately 1.4 million acres of agency-owned or leased lands which constitute less than one percent of the roughly 172 million acres in Texas. To address the shortage of public hunting lands and to provide additional low-cost opportunity for hunting white-tailed deer in Texas, the Department in 2001 initiated lease agreements with individual landowners for the harvest of surplus deer from their property.
Lease of Private Lands for Public Hunts for Deer
The Department negotiates with landowners to lease private lands for hunting of white-tailed deer by the public. Terms of lease agreements allow a limited number of hunters, selected in drawings by the Department, to harvest management bucks and antlerless/spike deer during a 2-day hunt (generally noon of day 1 through noon of day 3). Each hunter is allowed to harvest two deer of the specified type. Either-Sex Hunts allow each hunter to harvest only management bucks, spike bucks, and antlerless deer including no more than one management buck. Antlerless/Spike hunts allow each hunter to harvest only spike bucks and antlerless deer. Landowners or their agents are responsible for administering the hunts. Upon conclusion of the hunts, the Department pays a lease fee to the landowners based upon the number and type of hunter positions provided (approximately $150 for each antlerless/spike hunter position and $500 for each management buck hunter position).
Benefits for Landowners
The Department pays the landowners for the privilege of removing surplus deer from their property. Landowners do not have to collect fees or issue hunting permits to hunters. The hunts assist landowners in achieving management objectives. Management hunts may be conducted at any time during the general deer season; however, many landowners prefer to schedule them late in the season after trophy buck hunts have been completed. In the event that management hunts are conducted on lands having Managed Lands Deer (MLD) Permits, the hunts may be conducted within the extended season dates.
Benefits for the Hunting Public
Additional people are provided with a low cost hunt for white-tailed deer. Participants in the management hunts are assessed fees comparable to those for public hunts on wildlife management areas and state parks. Participants may use bonus carcass tags on deer harvested during the management hunts which allows them to utilize their hunting license carcass tags elsewhere.
Statewide Hunting Regulations Govern the Hunts
Participants are selected through departmental public hunt drawings and are issued a Special Permit for the concerned management deer hunt. Management deer hunts on private lands are conducted under Statewide Hunting Regulations with respect to seasons, bag limits, and means and methods. Additional restrictions in bag limits may be imposed through mutual agreement of the Department and the concerned landowner. The landowner may stipulate rules and procedures relative to use of the property during management hunts that are reasonable in nature and similar to the rules in effect for other deer hunting activity on the property.
Landowners Remain in Control of Hunting on Their Property
Landowners/agents check in the drawn hunters in at the start of each hunt period and inform them of rules and procedures concerning use of the property. They clarify the bag limit, what is legal game, and the definition of a management or "cull" buck. (Generally, a management buck is defined as a buck having at least one forked antler and eight or less total antler points.) Landowners/agents then direct the hunters to their respective hunt areas, monitor ongoing hunting activities, and check out hunters at the end of the hunt period. The landowner/agent is not required to provide guide service, food or lodging. However, the Department attempts to negotiate lease agreements that allow hunters to stay overnight on the property in a primitive campsite during their assigned hunt period.
How the Public Hunts on Private Lands are Implemented
Interested persons apply in the Department's public hunt drawings for a management deer hunt. The drawings are done by computer and select the desired number of hunters for each type (Either-Sex, Antlerless/Spike) of hunt and hunt period for each ranch on which management deer hunts are to be conducted. Drawn hunters are notified of their selection and asked to pay a hunt permit fee. Upon receipt of the required hunt permit fee, the Department then issues a Special Permit to the hunter along with detailed information concerning when and where to report for the hunt and any site-specific rules. The Department provides the respective landowner/agent with a listing of the names and telephone numbers of paid hunters for each management deer hunt type and hunt period on the ranch.
The paid hunters are responsible for appearing at the specified time and location at the start of their assigned hunt period. The landowner/agent is responsible for having someone at the designated time and location to check in the hunters. During the hunt, the landowner/agent is responsible for providing all staffing needed to administer the hunting activity and provide the extent of supervision deemed necessary.
Following the conclusion of all TPWD management hunts on the ranch, the landowner/agent promptly notifies the Director of Public Hunts in writing of the completion of the management hunts, the number of participating hunters, and the type and number of animals harvested. Upon receipt of such written notification, the Department initiates the payment process and the landowner/agent receives payment approximately 30 days thereafter.
The landowner/agent is paid the full amount specified in the lease for all management hunts provided as agreed upon. Full payment is made for the specified number and type of management hunt positions even if some of the paid hunters do not appear for the hunt, cannot complete the hunt, or are unsuccessful in harvesting game.
In the event a paid hunter fails to appear for the hunt at the designated time and place, becomes intoxicated or unruly, fails to comply with statewide regulations and ranch rules governing the hunt, or in any way presents a danger to themselves or others, the hunter forfeits all rights to participate in the hunt and the landowner/agent is authorized to instruct the hunter to immediately depart the premises.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN LEASING YOUR LAND TO THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT FOR MANAGEMENT DEER HUNTS, contact the TPWD Public Hunts Coordinator at 512/389-4773, or contact your local TPWD wildlife biologist or game warden.
It is recommended that you contact the Department as soon as possible so that we can discuss the program in detail and fully answer all of your questions.