Rules of the Game: Guns Afield - Texas Fish & Game - November 2012 Rules of the Game: Guns Afield - November 2012 The Laws and Regulations Governing the Use of Firearms for Hunting in Texas Part Ten of Our Year-Long Series by Steve LaMascus
WHOA. WAIT A MINUTE. Dont get excited. In this piece I am not going to give you a bunch of safety rules. If you need that then you need a lot of training before you ever read this. Safety afield is the most basic and the most important of all the gun handling qualities and you should know them all before you ever put a bullet in a gun. This is going to focus on the more abstruse aspects of the gun in the field.
Lets say you bow hunt on a place near the Mexican Border. You are there the first week of whitetail bow season. Youre pumped, man! You have done all the work needed by driving out at least once a month all summer long. All the stands and blinds are in top shape, the feeders are all filled, and the camp house is in A-1 condition.
The first morning of the hunt you get up, gather up your bow and broadheads, slip the little Walther PPKS and its holster onto your belt, just in case you should run into a group of illegal aliens that decide to take your wallet or your truck, and you head to the blind.
About 9:00am a nice buck comes to the feeder. He is wary, but after nearly an hour he is in position and you manage to draw your bow without frightening him. You send a razor-sharp broadhead through his ribs and the hunt is over. You go over, pick up the blood trail, and in a few minutes you find the buck. Immediately upon finding the buck you take out your wallet, get out your license, remove the proper tag, fill it out, cut out the date with your pocket knife, attach the tag to the bucks antlers with a plastic zip tie, and begin the job of field dressing.
As you finish cleaning your deer a Texas game warden drives up. He gets out of his vehicle, identifies himself, checks out your deer, looks at the tag. Then he asks you if you have a concealed handgun license. You answer that you do not. At this he takes out his ticket book and begins to write out a citation.
"Wait just a danged minute," you say. "I have done everything exactly according to the law. That tag is filled out properly. I do not need to have a CHL to carry my handgun on private property---especially way out here in the woods, a hundred miles from the nearest city. What the heck are you writing me a ticket for?"
Well, what is that warden writing a ticket for?
As you may have guessed, it is illegal to carry a firearm while "hunting with a broadhead hunting point during the Archery-Only season." The exception is that a holder of a concealed handgun license may carry a concealed handgun. However, if you do have a CHL and decide to carry a handgun, it must be concealed, even though you are on private property. If it is not concealed, it is still illegal. On the other hand, if you are not hunting you can carry a handgun anyway you want, with or without a license.
There are many things a person must know if he or she is to safely and legally carry a firearm afield. First, he must know if the gun he is intending to employ is legal for the purpose. For instance: When hunting deer the law prescribes that the firearm is "any centerfire."
Next he must know if the gun is sufficient for the purpose. Again for instance: You can legally hunt deer with a .17 caliber centerfire. The truth, however, is that the little sub-caliber rifles are not intended for big game, but only for varmints. Deer and other big game should never be hunted with such diminutive calibers. Also, dont believe Bob when he tells you it is legal to hunt deer with a .22 Magnum. The .22 WMR is a rimfire and therefore illegal for deer.
Your cousin from Oklahoma comes to see you in Texas. While he is here you and he decide to take a .22 and shoot a few cottontails that have been hanging around your vegetable garden. Question: Does he need a hunting license?
Answer: Yes, he does. Any person, hunting anything in the State of Texas, needs a hunting license. That includes exotics like axis deer and aoudad.
Your cousin, Bubba, comes to your lease for a deer hunt. The first morning he drags out a Springfield M1A with a 20 round magazine. As he starts out the door of the bunkhouse with his "assault rifle" Joe Bob Bighead, the legal expert of the group, tells him he cant hunt deer with his gun and its 20 round magazine. He says the law requires that the magazine hold not more than 5 rounds. Is he correct?
No, he is not correct. In the Great State of Texas the only magazine restrictions apply when hunting migratory birds. Then, due to the infinite illogic of the U.S. Government, you are limited to a firearm that will hold no more than 3 rounds, with 2 rounds in the magazine.
So, does that mean that when you hunt quail you must use a shotgun with only 2 rounds in the magazine? No on both counts.
First, you are not restricted to the federal regulation and may use a shotgun with the magazine block removed. Second, you are not restricted to a shotgun. Quail are not migratory, so are not covered under that law.
Since turkeys are not migratory, can you hunt them with a rifle? Well, yes and no. During the fall season, which corresponds with deer season, and only for Rio Grande turkeys, you can hunt them with anything that is legal for deer. Rifles and handguns are specifically forbidden for hunting eastern turkeys. During the special spring season it is illegal to hunt any turkey with anything except a shotgun, bow, or crossbow.
Now you are hunting on a lease in Maverick County. You have been hunting a specific buck for three years. Finally one morning you see him. He is on the neighbors ranch, but he is following a doe toward your lease. After a couple of eternities he finally jumps the fence, runs a few steps into your lease, and stops to sniff the air. He rolls his lips back over his teeth, sticks his big, Roman nose up in the air, and then urinates down both his black stained hocks. At this point you shoot him through the ribs. The bullet hits him perfectly, penetrates both his lungs, exits the far side and goes whining on across the fence the monster buck just jumped.
Question: Have you violated any law?
Answer: Yes, you have. It has recently become a violation if your bullet crosses any property line, into a property that you do not own or lease. It is called "trespass by projectile." While it might seem stupid and may be almost impossible for an officer to prove, it is nonetheless a law that you should consider before you press that trigger.
There are many things to know and consider before you head out into the pastures with your firearm. The above covers those that I believe are, at the most, often misunderstood, but they are not all there is to contemplate. It would serve you well to read the Outdoor Annual from cover to cover before the beginning of each season. It might save you an expensive ticket and a ruined hunt.
The Cover Story Photo Shoot
FOR THIS MONTHS COVER STORY, photographer Cody Conway shot several closeups of TF&Gs own Dustin Ellermann as he sighted in with a Savage 110 BA chambered in .338 Lapua.
Firing bullets up to 300 grains with ballistic coefficients up to .818 surpassing 2,600 fps the .338 Lapua is an extremely effective long-range cartridge with capabilities of shooting over a mile and taking down any game animal on the planet.
Savage 110 BA is the most affordable .338 Lapua rifle on the market and accuracy rivals custom .338 rifles that cost three times as much.
The Savage BA series are also chambered in .308 Winchester and .300 Winchester Magnum.
Dustins rifle is topped off with a Leupold Mark 4 LR/T 6.5-20x50mm (30mm) M1 along with high Leupold rings. The Leupold scope features an advanced tactical milling reticle that has half mil hashes, an open center, and crosshair illumination.
Zeroing the rifle was a breeze with the tactical scope knobs and Dustins second shot at 300 yards was dead center after only one adjustment after initial mounting.