Dove hunting seasons opens Sept. 1, and about two weeks later, we’ll be shooting teal. Shortly after that, the archery season on deer opens in October. But to participate in any of those very popular shooting activities, you’ll need to have the 2012-13 hunting license, which is available where sporting goods are sold as of Aug. 15.
Licenses may also be purchased online through the TPWD Web site at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/buy  or by phone at (800) 895-4248 with a $5 convenience fee required for each transaction. Call center hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday. The online transaction system is available 24/7. A transaction receipt may be printed at the time of purchase online and a confirmation number is provided for phone orders, with the physical license mailed separately. Confirmation numbers will verify that a license has been purchased, which is sufficient for dove hunting, but will not allow hunters to take fish or wildlife that require a tag.
“Current-year Texas hunting and fishing licenses (except year-to-date fishing licenses) expire Aug. 31, and new licenses for 2012-13 are now on sale,” said Steve Lightfoot with TPWD. “The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department issues about 2.1 million hunting and fishing licenses annually through the agency’s 28 field offices, more than 58 state parks and at over 1,600 retailers across Texas.”
To hunt dove or teal in September, a Migratory Game Bird Stamp ($7) is required. Duck hunters also need to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp and receive HIP (Harvest Information Program) certification. HIP certification involves a brief survey of previous year’s hunting success and is conducted at the time licenses are purchased.
Certification will be printed on the license. Lifetime license holders must also be HIP-certified and purchase the Federal Duck Stamp to hunt migratory birds. All other state stamp endorsements are included with a lifetime license.
“There are other mandatory endorsements to consider at the time of purchase,” said Lightfoot. “An Upland Game Bird Stamp ($7) is required to hunt all non-migratory game birds, including turkey, quail, pheasant and chachalaca.”
If you hunt and fish, you’ll definitely want to purchase a Super Combo license. It’s the best bang for the buck at $68, and automatically gets these needed stamps. Sportsmen ages 65 and older qualify for a discounted Senior Super Combo for $32. Duck hunters will still need to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp.
Hunters and anglers can also take care of their licensing requirements for life with the purchase of an $1,800 Lifetime Super Combo, or you can enter for a chance at winning a lifetime license through a special drawing. Entries for the Lifetime License Drawing cost $5 each and may be purchased wherever licenses are sold. There is no limit on the number of entries that may be purchased. Winners will be drawn on Dec. 30, 2012, and June 30, 2013. If you enter by Dec. 27, 2012, you will be eligible for both drawings.“Also available everywhere licenses are sold are chances for Big Time Texas Hunts,” said Lightfoot. “The Big Time Texas Hunts is a very popular department program that offers hunters the opportunity to enter to win one or more premium guided hunts with food and lodging provided, as well as taxidermy in some cases. The crown jewel of the program is the Texas Grand Slam dream hunt package, which includes four separate hunts for Texas’ most prized big game animals — the desert bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, mule deer and pronghorn. There are several quality whitetail hunt packages available, as well as opportunities to pursue alligator, waterfowl, upland game birds, and exotics such as sable and gemsbok.”
Hunters can buy Big Time Texas Hunts entries online for $9 each at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/buyentry or for $10 each at license retailers or by phone. There is no limit to the number of entries you can buy, and all proceeds benefit conservation, wildlife management and public hunting.
Definitely don’t forget that Hunter Education Certification is also required of any hunter born on or after Sept. 2, 1971, and who is at least 17 years old. For hunters who are unable to work in a hunter education course before hunting season for whatever reason, TPWD offers a deferral option that allows people 17 years of age or older a one-time only extension to complete the state’s hunter education requirements. The individual must first purchase a hunting license and then may purchase the deferral, option No. 166.
“Hunters using the deferral must be accompanied by someone 17 years old or older also licensed to hunt in Texas,” said Lightfoot. “The accompanying individual must have completed hunter education or be exempt from the requirements (born before Sept. 2, 1971). The extension is good for one license year, by which time the person with the deferred option needs to complete a hunter education course. This option is not available to those who have ever received a conviction or deferred adjudication for lack of hunter education certification. They still must take the course before going afield.”
For information concerning the latest regulations and articles on hunting and fishing in Texas, check out the 2012-13 Outdoor Annual available at license retailers, and online at www.txoutdoorannual.com .
Robert Sloan can be reached by e-mail at sloan288 [at] aol [dot] com