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South Plains Counties Ready for Additional
Wardens During Mule Deer Season Opener
Lubbock district and surrounding area game wardens will be dedicating extra patrol hours and state assets to the mule deer hunting season which occurs in southwestern panhandle counties through Nov. 29.
The West Texas mule deer hunting season attracts hunters from across the state and around the country into the southern plains in hopes of harvesting a buck. The nine-day general season is open to hunters with a valid Texas hunting license and permission to hunt on 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 managed land deer (MLD) permit is obtained.
Lt. Game Warden Aaron Sims says this is one of the busiest times of the season and as such, Texas Game Wardens have requested additional assets.
“The wardens receive numerous calls for service during the nine-day season, ranging from trespassing to suspected road hunting as well as hunting deer at night,” Sims said. “The season which spans over the Thanksgiving holiday, also brings in additional nonresident hunters for other species as well, such as sandhill crane and geese. The additional wardens will alleviate the strain on local officers, due to the vast area of coverage.”
Sims says 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.
“This is a very busy time,” Sims said. “Wardens will be working throughout the nine-day season including over the Thanksgiving holiday.”
Among the general violations, wardens will be enforcing a minimum antler restriction width in certain panhandle counties. Briscoe, Childress, Cottle, Floyd, Hall, Motley and Lynn counties will have the 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.
Similar to previous years, Texas Game Wardens will have the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) airplane to spot potential offenders from the air. Sims explains that having visibility from the air 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 effort to deter illegal hunting activities. Additionally, Texas Game Wardens will be coordinating with their counterparts with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish when state line issues arise.
The increased enforcement marks the seventh year in a row that game wardens from other parts of Texas are being called into the region for assistance. 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 all game violations that occur. Garza County residents can call local warden Trent Walker at 806-470-0065 or anonymously report to Operation Game Thief hotline by calling 1-800-792-4263 (GAME).