South Plains Counties Preparing for a Busy Mule Deer Season Opener
LUBBOCK —Between Nov. 20 and 28, Lubbock area game wardens will dedicate extra patrol hours and state resources to the mule deer hunting season.
The west Texas mule deer season attracts hunters from across the country into the southern plains for the thrilling opportunity to hunt and harvest a buck. The nine-day general season is open to hunters with a valid Texas hunting license and landowner permission to hunt on the property. Legal harvesting methods include the use of permitted firearms or archery equipment. The bag limit is one buck per legal hunter and does not allow the take of a mule deer doe unless a special MLD permit is obtained.
Lubbock district public information officer Lt. Aaron Sims explained that with the influx of hunting enthusiasts additional state resources are critical, “The support of extra game wardens from other parts of the state acting as force multipliers is a necessary response to the anticipated influx of activity near the New Mexico state line.” Sims also acknowledges that even with the additional assistance, illegal hunting may occur outside the presence of the wardens. As such, he is asking the public to be extra vigilant in the coming weeks by reporting illegal hunting to local law enforcement.
With the discovery of a positive CWD case in a local mule deer, hunters who harvest mule deer and white-tailed deer in the Lubbock area CWD Containment Zone are required by law to bring their animals to a TPWD check station within 48 hours of harvest.
Among the general violations, wardens will enforce a minimum antler restriction in Briscoe, Childress, Cottle, Floyd, Hall, Motley, and Lynn counties. A legal buck deer is defined as having an outside antler spread 20 inches or greater. Any buck for which the outside spread of the main beams is less than 20 inches is not legal to harvest.
Lubbock game wardens will deploy the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) airplane to spot potential suspects from the air. Sims noted that having eyes in the sky is important for the wide-open rural geographic area. The pilot and spotter fly over the vast area and communicate specific coordinates of suspected poachers to the wardens patrolling on the ground.
This hunting season, potential violations range from improperly tagged deer to more serious violations such as hunting deer at night and hunting on property without landowner consent. Hunting deer without consent carries a punishment of a state jail felony and potential loss of hunting and fishing privileges in Texas and other US states. Area-wide landowners and citizens are encouraged to report all game violations that occur. The public can access their local game warden’s contact information online, or they can anonymously report to Operation Game Thief hotline by calling 1-800-792-4263 (GAME).