Four counties in Texas will remain reserved for archery for deer season

An overwhelming public outcry prevented the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission from passing a rule change at meetings last week that would have allowed deer hunting with a rifle in four North Texas counties.

Collin, Dallas, Grayson and Rockwall counties will keep their archery-only deer hunting seasons. The four counties are the only ones in the state where archery is the only legal way to harvest, even during the youth, general, and managed land seasons. All other counties in the state allow rifle hunting except for El Paso and Hudspeth, the only two counties in Texas without seasons for white-tailed deer.

Letters from Representative Reggie Smith and Senator Drew Springer against the proposal; opposition from the Courts of Grayson and Collin County Commissioners, the Collin County Sheriff’s Department, and the towns of Anna and Sherman; a Change.org petition with over 2,000 signatures; and 66% of the total 743 public comments opposing the plan during last week’s business session helped the TPW Commission reject three of the proposal’s four parts.

“It’s just overwhelming,” TPW commission chairman Arch Aplin III said after several other commissioners commented on the significant opposition.

“I think they will be very happy to keep their bow alone, which they appreciate. It’s their local community, and I think we should listen to them.

The commission decided not to add rifle hunting to the general, youth, or MLDP seasons, nor did it remove the ban on crossbows during archery season or add four “doe days.” in the general season.

But mandatory crop reporting will come into effect in these four counties next season to gather more data to better monitor the area. Harvests can be reported on the My Texas Hunt Harvest app or on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website.

A petition for rulemaking was sent to TPWD last year by Harry Jacobson, a deer biologist and former Mississippi State professor, and Tim Condict, a member of the deer ranching community.

Alan Cain, TPWD’s whitetail deer program manager, told the commission during last week’s working session that there was no biological reason to prevent a rifle season in the counties of Collin, Dallas, Grayson and Rockwall.

Most of the landscape in these four counties is organized into Deer Management Unit 21, an area with a deer population of 11,300, according to TPWD’s latest estimate, and a density of one deer per 80 acres.

This population status is similar to neighboring units DMU 20 (one deer per 118 acres) and DMU 22 (one deer per 70 acres).

“These two DMUs and all others surrounding these counties currently allow the gunshot during the general season, youth season and on MLD properties,” Cain said.

“Staff believe that allowing gun shots during the general season, youth season and on MLD properties is not a resource issue. This will provide additional hunting opportunities and give landowners additional means to manage the deer population in native habitats on their properties.

Cain told the commission that land fragmentation — as the Metroplex sprawl expands — will be what drives the negative deer population trends regionally, not the upsurge in arms. fire. Deer remaining in isolated pockets of habitat will be managed by individual landowners.

“It’s no different than Harris County; we have a rifle season in Houston. Obviously there’s not a lot of hunting there, but where there is a patch of habitat there may be a few deer that can harvest by any legal means we have for those seasons” , said Cain.

Concern over the inability of shrinking habitat to support gun harvesting and a low deer population were reasons for public opposition to the rifle season proposal. Concerns about poaching, public safety and a disrupted deer age structure have also been expressed.

The local hunting community has expressed a desire to preserve the unique archery culture that has developed since the opening of the designated archery season in Grayson County in 1999 and has expanded to the other three counties in 2010. The Change.org petition concluded “that what we have here works” and that the trophy deer harvested in the counties is proof of that.

“It does not change, the hunt. All we talk about is resources. So there doesn’t seem to be anyone against hunting or harvesting deer, just the way it’s done,” Commissioner Oliver Bell said. “If the locals seem to be so concerned about how it’s done and maintain a preference for it, I don’t know if there’s an overwhelming reason” to change it.

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Twitter: @mattdwyatt

Earnest A. Martinez