Lubbock District Game Wardens Organizing for Mule Deer Saturation Patrol and South Plains Counties Ready for Additional Wardens During Mule Deer Season Opener
Lubbock and surrounding area counties- Lubbock district Game Wardens will be dedicating extra patrol hours and state assets to the Mule Deer season which occurs in southwestern panhandle counties and runs this year from November 17th -25th. With the new season comes new changes both to specific county antler restrictions as well as Lynn County opening a season for the first time.
The west Texas mule deer attract hunters from across the state and around the country into the southern plains to have a chance at harvesting a buck. The 9-day general season is open to hunters with a valid Texas hunting license and 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 Aaron Sims says this is one of the busiest times of the season, and as such, they have requested additional state assets. “With the addition of Lynn County to the nine-day season, and New Mexico running a near-concurrent mule deer season, it is essential we bring in wardens from across the state to assist our district. They will work directly with local wardens and county law enforcement to deter illegal hunting activities.” Sims also acknowledges that even with the additional assistance, illegal hunting may occur outside the presence of the wardens. Sims is asking the public to be extra vigilant in the coming weeks.
Among the general violations, wardens will be enforcing a new minimum antler restriction width in certain panhandle counties. Briscoe, Childress, Cottle, Floyd, Hall, and Motley counties will have new restrictions in effect. A legal buck deer is defined as a buck with an outside 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. Any buck with at least one unbranched antler (e.g., spike) is NOT legal to harvest unless the outside spread of the main beams is at least 20 inches in width.
Like the last several years, the wardens will have the Texas Parks and Wildlife airplane to spot potential suspects from the air. He explains that having the eyes in the sky is important for the wide open rural geographic area. The pilot and spotter will be able to fly over the vast area and call out specific coordinates of suspected poachers to the wardens patrolling on the ground. The airplane, which will fly both during the day and night, will allow the wardens to see for miles in an effort to deter illegal hunting activities. Additionally, Texas game wardens will be coordinating with their counterparts across the state line as New Mexico Department of Game and Fish will also be conducting a saturation patrol.
The increased enforcement marks the fifth year in a row that game wardens from other parts of Texas are being called in to assist. The 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 any and 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).