Ever had the urge to catch a catfish with your hands? Well, now you can without fear of being a criminal and paying fines.
Own a helicopter, rifle, and have some free time? Go shoot hogs, its legal now.
These are just a few of the new laws that we can now take advantage of as of 9/1/11 and everyone knows about these since they have been wildly publicized. But what do you know about the laws already on the books? The laws that have been in effect for 20+ years are the ones that usually get hunters in trouble so I thought I’d put together a brief list of the questions I’m frequently asked (sometimes after the fact) in hopes that it’ll keep you from having to spend a lot of money on fines and lawyers. As with all information provided about game laws I suggest you clear up any questions you have with a game warden, since they’ll be the ones writing tickets and they don’t take the excuse “some outdoor writer said I could,” very well.
I’ve been asked all of these questions within the last week.
1. What can I hunt with my hunting license?
Not much. Deer, squirrel, hogs, varmints…and that’s about it. Just because your license has a tag on it for turkey that doesn’t mean you can hunt them. If you want to hunt turkey, quail, lesser prairie chicken, chachalaca, or pheasant you need to purchase the Upland Game Bird endorsement. If you want to hunt doves, ducks, coot, rail, gallinule, woodcock, sandhill cranes, and geese you need to buy the Migratory Game Bird Endorsement (plus a Federal Duck Stamp for waterfowl and a Federal Sandhill Crane Permit for sandhill crane). The Federal Duck Stamp must be signed and your license must have HIP certification before hunting migratory birds. If you want to bow hunt for anything then you need an Archery Endorsement as well. Confused yet? Wait, there’s more. If you happen to have the urge to pick up a snake along the side of the road then you need a Reptile and Amphibian Stamp (no I’m not making this up).
2. Wait a minute. You said I need a hunting license to shoot hogs. A buddy told me I could kill pigs without a license.
Taken straight from the Texas Outdoor Annual, “A hunting license is not required to hunt…..depredating feral hogs, if a landowner (resident or non-resident)or landowner’s agent of lessee is taking feral hogs causing depredation on the landowners land.” So, you can only kill hogs without a license on your own land or lease because they are eating crops, or making ruts, or tearing stuff up in genera (you better catch them in the act because it’s going to be difficult to prove that the hog you shot today was the one eating your wheat a week ago). Eating corn under a feeder is not depredation. If you shoot a pig without a hunting license (you have the license not the pig) you’ll usually come out on the wrong end of a ticket so buy the license as cheap insurance.
3. What time can I start shooting doves? Can’t we shoot until 30 minutes after sunset?
The legal shooting time for migratory birds is one half hour before sunrise until sunset. Get a sunrise/sunset chart for your hunting area so you know exactly when to start and stop shooting because it varies as you travel east or west.
4. How about hunter education? I don’t need that do I?
In order to buy a hunting license, no you don’t need hunter education. Now, if you actually want to hunt, then the answer is probably yes. Everyone born after September 2, 1971 must successfully complete a hunter education course. The minimum age of certification is 9 years old. If you are between 9 and 16 you can get by without hunter education by being accompanied by a licensed hunter 17 years old or older who has completed hunter education. If you are 17 and over you must have successfully completed hunter education or buy a one-time deferral for $10 which allows you to hunt for up to one year without hunter education as long as you are accompanied by a licensed hunter 17 or older who has. You can only get a deferment once. The easy solution is to get your hunter education because even if you are shooting depredating hogs or coyotes attacking livestock you are still required to have hunter education certification even if you don’t have to have a license.