New hunting opportunities in the Big Thicket

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In an effort to expand recreational opportunities in the national preserve and provide unique experiences for all, effective October 2017, Big Thicket National Preserve will open a new waterfowl hunting area and permit the use of air rifles for squirrel hunting.

Squirrel hunting has been a popular activity in the preserve for many years. In accordance with Texas regulations, only squirrel (fox squirrel, cat/grey squirrel) may be taken with air rifles.

The new Lake Bayou Hunting Unit, located on the Neches River north of the Interstate 10 bridge in Beaumont, will be opened for waterfowl-only hunting. Comprising nearly 4,000 acres of swamp, marsh, and minor waterways, the Lake Bayou Hunting Unit contains high quality waterfowl hunting opportunities and is accessible only by boat. Hunters at Lake Bayou will be permitted to take waterfowl in accordance with Texas regulations from Oct. 1, 2017, to February 28, 2018. Daily hunting hours for the Lake Bayou Hunting Unit will begin 30 minutes before sunrise and end at noon, with specific seasons and daily bag limits following state regulations. As in all preserve hunting units, permanent blinds are not allowed, but boat blinds will be permissible and must be attended at all times.

“We’re excited to open this new hunting area and to offer waterfowl enthusiasts a new hunting opportunity in the region,” said Big Thicket National Preserve Superintendent Wayne Prokopetz.

Hunters who wish to obtain a Lake Bayou Unit hunting permit should note that this unit will be open to waterfowl hunting only, including during the extended hog season. Hunters are allowed only one permit per season. Hunting permits will be available free of charge, starting Sept. 1, 2017 through February 28, 2018; from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily at the Big Thicket National Preserve Visitor Center, 6102 FM 420, Kountze. Hunters at Big Thicket National Preserve are encouraged to review the Big Thicket Hunting Guide and Regulations booklet, which is updated annually. Additional information, including maps of the preserves hunting areas, can be found on the preserves’ website at

For general information about Big Thicket National Preserve, visit or call the preserve visitor center at (409) 951-6700. On Facebook, visit, on Twitter and on Instagram.

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— National Park Service