Texas: The Republic of Hunting

Texas: The Republic of Hunting

Traditions run deep in Texas, whether that's Friday night rodeos, football, cowboy hats, or barbecue. And one of those important Lone Star State traditions is hunting.

Each fall more than a million Texans head out in search of game, and the list of huntable species is larger here than almost anywhere else.


From the Piney Woods in the eastern part of the state to the desert habitat around Big Bend and in the Trans-Pecos regions you'll find an abundance of hunting opportunities for everything from upland game to exotic species.



hunting-in-texas-landscape

But Texas has also been at the forefront of many movements in the hunting world; this is the birthplace of modern deer management and leased hunting land. Few places have invested as much time and money into preserving game, hunting rights and statewide conservation initiatives.


As habitat has been lost or altered in other areas Texas biologists are leading the way with efforts to restore native grasslands, eradicate harmful invasive species and ensure that future generations of hunters enjoy the resources that have existed here since the first pioneering settlers traveled to this wide-open country.


It's BIG

To say that Texas is big is an understatement. The Lone Star State covers more than seven percent of the surface area of the country — 268,597 square miles to be exact.

Brewster County alone is larger than Connecticut, and the massive King Ranch in the southern portion of the state is roughly the same size as Rhode Island. If you are in Texarkana you're geographically closer to Cincinnati, Ohio than El Paso.

hunt-quail-in-texas

That immense size coupled with proper management and ample hunting opportunities makes Texas one of the greatest hunting destinations in the United States. Here's a look at just some of what the Lone Star State has to offer sportsmen and women.

Whitetail Country

Texas is the home of big deer, and each year whitetail hunters generate more than two billion dollars for the Texas economy. There are more than a million acres of public hunting land, but many of the biggest bucks exist on private ranches. Proper management has made the state home to some absolutely massive deer, and your chances of encountering a book buck in Texas are very high if you're hunting the right property.

hunt-texas-whitetail

With high buck-to-doe ratios rutting activity is intense, and techniques like rattling (which was popularized here decades ago) work well to draw the biggest bucks out of the fortresses of thorn. But even if your objective is to simply fill the freezer there's also great opportunity here; a cull buck or doe hunt on managed ranch land can provide outstanding table fare at a very reasonable price.

Muleys, Bighorns, and Speed Goats

Whitetails certainly aren't the only deer species in Texas, though. The state is home to some outstanding mule deer, and careful management techniques have helped keep numbers here relatively high.

Plus, trophy potential is excellent. There are also plenty of pronghorn antelope in the far western portion of the state, and the wide-open grassy plains are a great place to find a good speed goat. Hudspeth County has accounted for more than a hundred Boone & Crockett antelope, so there's no question that the animals have the genetics required to reach immense size.

mule-deer-hunting-in-texas

For the lucky few there's also the opportunity to hunt bighorn sheep, one of the country's most sought-after trophies. The odds are slim — only about two or three sheep tags are issued on state land every year — but for just nine dollars you can enter to win the state's Texas Grand Slam package which includes guided hunts for the "Big Four" (bighorn sheep, antelope, mule deer, and whitetails) and, as an added bonus, a guest can tag along and taxidermy services are provided. To say that this the hunt of a lifetime is an understatement.

Turkeys

At the turn of the twentieth century wild turkeys had nearly been eradicated in Texas, but work by landowners and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) have helped bolster numbers. Eastern turkeys were reestablished in the state in the 1980s and 1990s, and currently the birds are flourishing in East Texas.

hunting-turkey-in-texas

The main draw for most hunters is the Rio Grande turkey, which live in the central portion of the state. With more than a half-million birds estimated to be living in Texas turkey hunting opportunities abound. With ample opportunities and affordable prices Texas is a great destination for the out-of-state hunter who is looking for high odds of success or who needs a Rio for their Grand Slam.

Exotics

Texas ranchers began importing exotic species like fallow and axis deer, blackbuck, nilgai, and aoudad during the last century and since that time many of these ungulate species have flourished. There is currently no closed season on exotics and no bag limit (although a hunting license is required) and many landowners offer opportunities for these species at an affordable rate.

hunting-exotics-in-texas

Interestingly, since their introduction many of these species now exist in greater numbers in Texas than in their native ranges. Some of these exotics provide excellent table fare, too — axis deer and nilgai are considered to be some of the most delicious of all wild game species. Don't be fooled into thinking that just because these exotic species are not native to Texas they always make for an easy hunt. The free-ranging aoudad that live in the remote mountains of south and west Texas are wary and hard to hunt, and chasing them in this rugged country is as tough as many high-mountain hunts for native game.

Upland Birds and Waterfowl

Texas ranks as one of the most underrated waterfowl hunting destinations in the country. With huge numbers of migratory birds working their way south along the coast places like Matagorda Island are fantastic destinations for a wide-range of waterfowl species, and as an added bonus the weather here is oftentimes far more agreeable than areas farther north on the flyway.

waterfowl-hunting-in-texas

Most of the country's guided dove hunts take place in Texas, and harvesting these birds and cooking them (wrapped in bacon with cream cheese and jalapeno, of course) is as much a Lone Star culinary tradition as grilled beef steaks and barbecue ribs. Additionally, you'll find scaled, Montezuma, Gambel's and bobwhite quail in Texas, and recent efforts to reintroduce these birds and improve habitat promises that opportunities are good and getting better.

Predators and Hogs

If you're a serious predator hunter Texas is a dream destination. With lots of land and lots of predators you can expect high success rates when calling. Additionally, many landowners are happy to accommodate predator hunters who are willing to help reduce their coyote populations. A single ranch might be home to bobcats, foxes and 'yotes, all out looking for a free meal.

hog-hunting-in-texas

Feral hogs are a huge problem in Texas — estimates suggest that they cause more than 52 million dollars in agricultural damage annually — so to say there are ample hog hunting opportunities is an understatement. Descendants of domestic pigs that escaped or were released, these pigs reproduce at a staggering rate and hog populations are found in virtually every portion of the state.

In addition, hogs make excellent table fare, and you can often combine a deer, turkey, or predator hunt with a hog hunt for little or no additional cost.

Recommended for You

Every hunter needs a rimfire workhorse for varmints and predators. Guns

Best Rimfire Rifles for 2019

Keith Wood - April 23, 2019

Every hunter needs a rimfire workhorse for varmints and predators.

Whether you're pursuing black bears, moose or whitetails, Quebec will put you on the right track. North America

Big-Game Adventure Beckons in Quebec

Lynn Burkhead

Whether you're pursuing black bears, moose or whitetails, Quebec will put you on the right...

Our picks for stuffable protection against any weather. Clothing

Field Tested: Lightweight Raingear

David Draper - May 30, 2019

Our picks for stuffable protection against any weather.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Cheeseburger Poppers

Cheeseburger Poppers

David Draper shares his recipe for making delicious cheeseburger poppers with wild game in this edition of "Fare Game."

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 16: Cedar Break Bucks

Kevin Steele treks to the cedar breaks and coulees of north-central Nebraska for a shot at a big prairie whitetail.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 11: Wheelgun Buffalo

Host Craig Boddington lays claim to hunting more than 100 Cape Buffalo over the course of his 40 plus year career, but he never took one with a handgun. That changed in South Africa when Craig faced down "black death" with a magnum wheelgun.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Since the first explorers and pilgrims landed, the inhabitants of this glorious country have been Shooting

7 Favorite Truck Guns

Joseph von Benedikt - May 11, 2015

Since the first explorers and pilgrims landed, the inhabitants of this glorious country have...

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians. News

The Ticks Making Hunters Allergic to Meat

David Hart

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians.

Which are the best states to hunt for black bears? I have compiled a list of several great black North America

Best States To Hunt For Black Bears

Joseph von Benedikt

Which are the best states to hunt for black bears? I have compiled a list of several great...

See More Stories

More North America

The western states offer some great opportunities for crossbow hunters, but regulations vary widely North America

Best States For Crossbow Hunting In The West

Joseph von Benedikt - August 31, 2017

The western states offer some great opportunities for crossbow hunters, but regulations vary...

Throw a dart at a map of the United States and there's a good chance you'll hit public land. North America

Petersen's Hunting Expert Picks the 10 Best Public Land Hunts

David Hart - October 02, 2017

Throw a dart at a map of the United States and there's a good chance you'll hit public land.

Traditions run deep in Texas, whether that's Friday night rodeos, football, cowboy hats, or North America

Texas: The Republic of Hunting

Brad Fitzpatrick - October 03, 2016

Traditions run deep in Texas, whether that's Friday night rodeos, football, cowboy hats, or

See More North America

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×