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Old 06-18-2010, 11:59 AM   #1
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 @ 08:41 PM 
Default Public Bowhunting Opportunities in Texas

Itís that time of year to apply for public bowhunting opportunities. Some of the Corp of Engineer hunts have early application deadlines so its not too early to start researching and applying. The drawing at Hagerman NWR is already over and the lucky bowhunters that were drawn are being notified the week of June 21st. The Friends of Hagerman have posted a list of bowhunters that were drawn. If you applied and want to know if you were drawn visit, It has been several years since I was drawn for Hagerman but I got lucky this year and will be bowhunting Segment C.
There are a lot more quality public bowhunting opportunities than most people realize. Public bowhunting is not like public gun hunting. The areas aren't crowded, itís safe and game can be taken. The hunts are challenging for both experienced and beginning bowhunters.
A few years ago I wrote an article for the LSBA magazine on public bowhunting opportunities in Texas. It was also published in TPWD Target Talk. It should give you some ideas of places to look in your research. It should give you some ideas of places to look in your research. I've tried to attach the article but the file is too big so I'm copying and pasting it here.

Public Bowhunting Opportunities in Texas

There are a lot more bowhunting opportunities on public land in Texas than the average bowhunter realizes. While itís true that the vast majority of the land in Texas is privately owned and hunting leases are the standard, there is still some great bowhunting on public land. After all, the number 1 archery non-typical whitetail deer was taken on public land a few years ago.

Public bowhunting is challenging, fun and rewarding. Many of the tactics used on private property leases to bowhunt are not available on public land. It is rare to find a public hunting area that allows automatic feeders. Hand scattering of bait is allowed on some public areas but the vast majority do not allow baiting. In many public hunting areas, motorized vehicles are not allowed and no permanent stands can be erected. Many public lands require bowhunters that use portable stands to remove them at the end of the day or have a time limit that stands can be left out, such as, no more than 3 days. Bowhunters have to use basic hunting skills to be successful. Being able to read and interpret wildlife sign and other basic hunting skills are needed in addition to proficiency with a bow to be successful bowhunting public land. Bowhunting public land is a challenge and any deer harvested is a trophy.

Many bowhunters think that public bowhunting is like public gun hunting, overcrowded and unsafe. This is simply not the case. In many areas, public bowhunting opportunities are under utilized. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department special permit drawing hunts have standby bowhunting permits for deer go unused every year. Some local lakes that could never allow gun hunts due to human population density offer bowhunting for deer and feral hogs. Some of these lakes are close to major metropolitan areas. Did you know that it may be possible to bowhunt feral hogs in selected areas around a lake only a few miles from where you live?

Where can you go to find out more information about public bowhunting opportunities? There are a number of places to go to look for information. Is there one location that lists all public hunting lands? The answer to this question is NO. The problem is that there are so many different governmental agencies that offer bowhunting opportunities and each one does things a little different. Iíll list a few and how you can go about getting in touch with them.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) lands are probably the best known of all public hunting opportunities. TPWD has two main programs for bowhunters to access TPWD managed lands.

ē SPECIAL DRAWING AND REGULAR PERMIT HUNTING OPPORTUNITIES on Texas Parks and Wildlife Department hunting areas. This is the drawing hunt program. These are low cost quality bowhunts on TPWD managed lands. Application deadlines for the Archery alligator and Archery Deer bowhunts are in August. Plan ahead and take advantage of these opportunities. If you apply but are not drawn for one of these bowhunts, try going Standby. I have never heard of anyone being turned away after showing up as a standby for one of these bowhunts. The drawing bowhunt I went on last season at Richland Creek WMA had 40 standby permits available that went unused.

ē ANNUAL PUBLIC HUNTING PERMIT program. This is the program that was formerly known as the Type II program. There are a lot of great bowhunting opportunities open to bowhunters through this program. I have taken several deer with my bow off Type II lands. Normally the areas arenít crowded except for possibly the opening weekend of archery season. Some of the areas are archery only for deer and feral hogs.

Hereís how to contact TPWD to find out more information about bowhunting opportunities on TPWD managed lands.

Public Hunting Coordinator
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
The Corp of Engineers offers bowhunting opportunities around many of the lakes in Texas. Most of these areas are only open to bowhunters and waterfowl hunters and require a permit issued by each Corps lake office. Some of the areas require a proficiency test and permit fee. Others have an application deadline and a drawing to award permits. All require Hunterís Education certification. These bowhunts are similar to the TPWD hunts in that no motorized vehicles are allowed in the hunt areas, no permanent blinds can be constructed and many of the areas restrict baiting. TPWD bag limits, rules and regulations apply. These are quality hunts and some of the areas have sizable deer populations with mature bucks.

More information on bowhunting opportunities on Corps of Engineers lands can be found by going to the Ft. Worth District webpage at

Contact the Corps of Engineers Ft. Worth office and request a General Hunting Information booklet. This booklet can be downloaded here.

US Army Corps of Engineers
Ft. Worth District
819 Taylor Street
Ft. Worth, TX 76102
Phone: 817-886-1000

US Forest Service
Angelina, Davy Crocket, Sabine, and Sam Houston National Forests in East Texas offer public bowhunting opportunities. Also, Caddo and LBJ National Grasslands are open to bowhunters. Iím not personally familiar with these areas but more information can be found at their website, phone or mailing address.

National Forests & Grasslands in Texas
701 N. First Street
Lufkin, TX 75901
Phone: 936-639-8501

US Fish and Wildlife Service Ė National Wildlife Refuge System
There are 17 National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) in Texas. Some of them are open to bowhunters but many of them arenít. Three popular National Wildlife Refuges in Texas are open to bowhunters through a drawing system; Hageman NWR on the Red River in North Texas, Aransas NWR and Laguna Atascosa NWR on the Gulf coast. All three of these refuges have sizable deer populations with Pope and Young bucks. Here is a listing of all the refuges in Texas. Trinity River NWR had itís very first drawing for an archery deer hunt in 2004.

Contact each refuge for information on public bowhunting opportunities.

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
P.O. Box 100
Austewell, TX 77950
Phone Number: 361-286-3559

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge
6465 Refuge Road
Sherman, TX 75092 - 5817
Phone Number: 903-786-2826

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

P.O. Box 450
Rio Hondo, TX 78583
Phone Number: 956-748-3607

Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge
PO BOX 10015
Phone Number: 936-336-9786

National Park Service
The Big Thicket National Preserve is an obscure public hunting opportunity in East Texas. Specific units of the Preserve are open to hunting during the fall-winter hunting season for the State of Texas. Free permits, issued in person only, are provided during the month of July each year per public notification. The number of hunting permits for units open to hunting is limited. Go to for more information.

Big Thicket National Preserve
3785 Milam Street
Beaumont, Texas 77701-4724
Phone: (409) 951-6831 Monday through Friday

US Army, Ft. Hood Texas
The Ft. Hood military reservation offers bowhunting to civilians on thousands of acres of land. This is a quality hunt as our own past LSBA President, Tomme Actkinson, can attest. He was able to harvest a 7 point buck from Ft. hood last season. Congratulations Tomme! Ft. Hood requires a proficiency test and permit fee but has a long season. Some of the hunting areas on the post are bowhunting only, no gun hunters allowed. For more information go to'scenter.htm or contact Ft. Hood Sportsmen Center:

Sportsmen Center
Phone: 532-4552
Building 1937, Rod and Gun Loop
53rd Street and North Avenue

There may be other military installations in the state that offer bowhunting. Camp Bullis outside of San Antonio ( is open to military service personnel and retirees. Contact the military instillation you are interested in directly for more information on bowhunting opportunities.

National Recreation Areas
Amistad NWR offers deer hunting to bowhunters only, no guns allowed. You can find out more information at or contact Amistad NRA:

Amistad National Recreation Area
HCR 3, Box 5J
Hwy 90 West
Del Rio, TX 78840-9350
Hunting Permits
(830) 775-7491 x 206

Lake Meredith NRA offers Fishing and Hunting: Visitors can fish and hunt at Lake Meredith under Federal and State of Texas Game and Fish regulations; contact the park for a hunting map and hunting/fishing seasons/bag limits.

Lake Meredith National Recreation Area
By Mail:
P.O. Box 1460
Fritch, TX 79036
- or -
419 E. Broadway
Fritch, TX 79036

By Phone:
Visitor Information (806) 857-3151
Headquarters (806) 857-2319

By Fax: (806) 857-2319

Texas River Authorities
Some of the river authorities in Texas offer bowhunting opportunities to control deer populations. One of these is the Coleto Creek Park and Reservoir located midway between Victoria and Goliad. This lake offers drawing bowhunts for antlerless deer each fall. Coleto Creek is part of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority. You can find out more about bowhunting opportunities at Coleto Creek at or contact:

Coleto Creek Park and Reservoir
P.O. Box 68
365 Coleto Park Road
Fannin, TX 77960
Phone: (361) 575-6366
Fax: (361) 575-2267

Thereís a wide variety of public bowhunting opportunities out there but you have to do your homework to find them. Iím sure there are some others that Iím not aware of and I look forward to discovering more public bowhunting opportunities. Public bowhunts will challenge the most veteran of bowhunters but the memories will last a lifetime. Many of these bowhunts are in high demand and have drawings and very early application deadlines. Good luck to everyone this year wherever you hunt.

Bob Wright
Past President, LSBA
Bob Wright, LSBA Past President
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Old 06-20-2010, 08:28 PM   #2
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 @ 08:01 AM 

Good post Bob, thinks for putting the information out. Bob
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Old 06-20-2010, 09:41 PM   #3
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 @ 10:11 AM 

This suggestion will probably shoot down my own chances, but if you select Coleto Creek drawing, don't try it after the first month. I went in December last year and the deer are completely nocturnal by then. It's a great place, a very nice park to camp in, and they have great set ups for the hunters. The deer have figured out by late season that hunters can be found around the feeders - I sat for three days and never saw a deer during legal shooting hours. They were everywhere over the grounds at night...
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Old 06-24-2010, 10:14 AM   #4
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 @ 08:36 AM 

Great information, Bob! Thanks for posting it!
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