East Texas bow hunters are gearing up for the big show

The chances of getting a shot at a buck like this one, this season, are very goo

The bow season on deer opens Saturday, Oct. 3, and based on what I’ve seen in local sporting goods stores, hunters are gearing up with new bows, arrows, feeders, game cameras and plenty of camo for what is being touted as one of the best seasons we’ve had in years.

Alan Cain, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Whitetail program leader, says he expects antler quality to be well above average across most of Texas. That’s a direct result of timely winter and spring rains that have produced all the right groceries that deer like to forage on. Because of that, Texas deer hunters can expect to have a better than average season. And Cain says he expects a number of hunters will tag some big time trophy bucks this season.

The archery season will run from Oct. 3 – Nov. 6. The regular gun season in most Texas counties will run from Nov. 7 – Jan. 3. The South Texas season runs from Nov. 7 – Jan. 17. Don’t forget that an archery stamp is required to hunt deer during the archery season.

The good news is that deer are in better shape than they have been in years. The bad news is that they have plenty of food to forage on, and that means they will be a little reluctant to use corn feeders. That can definitely be a problem for bow hunters in the Pineywoods. With all the rain we’ve had, the thickets will be lush with vegetation. Usually when this occurs, just seeing deer can be a problem. This is when your best bet will be to set up tree stands on well-used game trails.

I think a lot of bow hunters are still confused about the use of crossbows during the archery only season. Here’s the deal. Crossbows are lawful for any person during the archery-only season in all counties except Collin, Dallas, Grayson and Rockwall, where no person may use a crossbow to hunt deer during the archery season unless the person has an upper-limb disability and has in immediate possession a physician’s statement that certifies the extent of the disability. An upper-limb disability is a permanent loss of the use of fingers, hand or arm in a manner that renders the person incapable of using a longbow, compound bow or recurved bow.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when using a crossbow. A crossbow is lawful for game animals and game birds, provided it has a minimum pull of 125 pounds, has a mechanical safety and is not less than 25 inches in length. And yes, telescopic sights are lawful. But keep in mind that an artificial light of any form that casts or reflects a beam of light onto or otherwise illuminates a game animal or bird may not be used as an aid to hunt, except battery-powered scoping devices that project a light or dot only inside the scope; pin sight lights on archery equipment; or laser sighting devices used by legally blind hunters, or hunters who have a documented permanent physical disability that prevents them from using traditional firearm sighting devices.

Special youth-only hunting seasons

Young hunters can get a jump-start on the 2015-16 Texas fall hunting seasons, with special youth-only weekend hunts.

Young waterfowlers will get first crack at ducks the weekend of Oct. 24-25. TPWD has also set aside the weekend of Oct. 31 – Nov. 1 as special youth-only seasons for white-tailed deer, Rio Grande turkey statewide, and for waterfowl in the North Duck Zone.

The statewide special youth-only hunting weekend for white-tailed deer and Rio Grande turkey is open to licensed youth 16 years of age or younger. Hunting for ducks, mergansers and coots during the youth-only waterfowl season is open to youngsters 15 years of age or younger, and no state or federal waterfowl stamps are required. Popular wildlife management areas for waterfowl hunting along the coast will be open for the special youth-only season, including the J.D. Murphree WMA in Port Arthur.

A $7 Special Youth Hunting License is required for all hunting activities and may be purchased at any one of TPWD’s 28 field offices, more than 50 state parks and at over 1,700 retailers across the state. Licenses may also be purchased online through the TPWD website at www.tpwd.texas.gov/buy or by phone at (800) 895-4248. Call center hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Note that here is a required $5 administrative fee for each phone or online transaction, but multiple items can be purchased during a single transaction occasion for the $5 fee. The online transaction system is available 24/7.


Robert Sloan can be reached by e-mail at sloan288 [at] aol [dot] com.