Hunting in Texas - Top 5 Spots


No series of articles about hunting through the most popular states in the US is complete without one on Texas, a place where hunting is less a hobby and more a way of life. Second only to Alaska in terms of size and boasting a myriad of huntable species, from old favorites including white-tailed deer, mule deer, wild hogs and turkeys to more exotic species like alligators and javelinas, the popularity of hunting here comes as no surprise.

Hunting in the ‘Lone Star State’ does come with a few caveats though. The terrain across much of the state is thick brush, making it quite a challenge for the newbie to get around. Plus, in keeping with the state’s solidly anti-government ethos, most of the hunting is done on private land, which as most people know, doesn’t come cheap. However, there are some good areas of public hunting land to visit to be sure. For a countdown of the largest public hunting areas available hold on for the second half of this article.

And to make life easier, don’t forget to pack a trail camera with you on your next Texas hunt. For a solid option, take a look here at our 22MP, 0.3-sec trigger speed WingHome 350C trail cam. For more information, feel free to contact us by email or chat with us directly on Facebook or Twitter.

Let’s take a look now at a selection of the most popular species for hunting in Texas…

Deer hunting in Texas

Hunting in Texas doesn’t get much more popular than going after these guys. With over 850,000 white tail hunters state-wide when the hunting season kicks off and more white tails than any other state, around 4.6 million at last count, you’re haven’t really been white-tailed deer hunting unless you’ve done it in Texas.

For all these reasons, deer hunting on public land can get very crowded. To avoid the crush, it’s always best to go during the week rather than weekends. And even then, always try to get as far off the beaten track as possible, which means proper planning and giving yourself sufficient time.

One of the best perks of white-tail hunting in Texas is that for each Texas deer license you purchase, you’ll get a grand total of five tags. Plus, because of the plentiful supply of food sources in the state, especially acorns, those deer will have some of the largest racks you’ll find in any state.

Quail hunting in Texas

From being the most popular type of hunting in the last century, quail hunting has declined in popularity for the last 20 years, which is mainly down to their declining numbers. Texas, however, is still a popular destination for bagging these small birds, one of only a few Western states that supports huntable populations of bobwhite quails.

Beware though, their numbers are dependent on the weather preceding the hunting season, so if the preceding winter, spring and summer months have been largely dry, don’t expect to have an easy time finding them.

If you plan on hitting Texas for some quail, then you’re going to want to target the Rolling Plains, South Texas and the Coastal Sand Plain regions.

Hog hunting in Texas

Hog hunting is where Texas as a hunting destination really comes into its own. Feral hogs are considered exotic, non-game animals in Texas, therefore are unprotected and may be hunted by any means or method all-year-round.

Available species are European wild hogs, feral hogs and European-feral crossbreeds, and with populations of more than 1.5 million, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for. Worth noting though is that to ensure hunting land with decent numbers, avoid North and West Texas, and instead focus your efforts on East, South and Central Texas.

That’s just a selection of the huntable species available. For full information of huntable species, plus when the hunting season for each species begins and ends, take a look at our table below…

Hunting Season in Texas 2020

**Season dates vary by zone.

Big Game

Archery<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Muzzleloader Only<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Youth Only<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

General Season<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Fall<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Spring<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Special Late Season<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Deer<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Sept. 28-Nov. 1<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Jan. 6-19<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Oct. 26-27 & Jan. 6-19<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Nov. 2-Jan. 19**<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Jan. 6-Feb. 2**<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Alligator<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Sept. 10-30**<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Mule<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Sept. 28-Nov. 1<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Nov. 23-Dec. 15**<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Pronghorn<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Sept. 28-Oct. 6<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Wild Turkey<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Archery: Sept. 28-Nov. 1<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Firearms: Nov. 2-Jan. 19**<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

March 21-May 17**<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Javelina<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

North: Oct. 1-Feb. 23

South: Sept. 1-Aug. 31, 2020<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">


Small Game

Woodcock<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Teal<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Snipe<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Squirrel<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Rabbit and Hare<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Quail<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Pheasant<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Chachalaca<span "="" style="font-size: 9pt;">

Dec. 18-Jan. 31<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Sept. 14-19<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Oct. 26-Feb. 9<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Sept. 1-Aug. 31**<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Open Season<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Oct. 26-Feb. 23<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Dec. 7-Jan. 5<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">

Nov. 2-Feb. 23<span "="" style="font-size: 7.5pt;">


Now’s the time to move onto our countdown of the top 5 public hunting lands in Texas by size…

5. Matador WMA

Size: 28,183 acres

Located in the central Rolling Plains of Cottle County, this Wildlife Management Area (WMA) consists of various habitats including mesquite uplands, oak rangelands and gravelly hills.

The large variety of habitats support an even larger number of species for general wildlife viewing: bobwhite quail, Rio Grande turkey, scissor-tailed flycatchers, Bullock's orioles, Mississippi kites, roadrunners, mourning doves, painted buntings, western diamondback rattlesnakes, western massasauga rattlesnakes, Texas horned lizards, ornate box turtles, mule and white-tailed deer, coyotes, bobcats, feral hogs, vermilion flycatchers, pyrrhuloxia, mountain lions, pronghorn, and javelina.

However, huntable species are limited to…

Hunting: feral hog, dove, teal, quail, rabbit, deer.

Address: 3036 FM 3256, Paducah, TX 79248
Phone: (806) 492-3405

4. Tawakoni WMA

Size: 39,125 acres

Lake Tawakoni was formed via the construction of the Iron Bridge Dam to provide a water supply for Dallas, which is located just 50 miles to the west. Around the lake, this wildlife management area was set up, consisting of three units, with the Pawnee Inlet Unit to the north, the Caddo Creek Unit to the east and the Duck Cove Unit to the south.

Hunting: deer archery, feral hog, dove, teal, waterfowl, other Migratory Birds, squirrel, rabbit, furbearers.

Address: 21187 CR4106, Lindale, TX 75771
Phone: (903) 881-8233

3. Ray Roberts PHL

Size: 41,303 acres

Located just an hour north of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Similar to the Tawakoni WMA, this Public Hunting Land (PHL) is centred around a lake, in this case the 29,000-acre Ray Roberts Lake. No surprise that the lake is a favorite among local fishers, and the surrounding nine units of land provide opportunities for hunters.

Hunting: feral hog, dove, teal, waterfowl, other migratory birds, quail, squirrel, rabbit.

Address: Isle du Bois Unit, 100 PW 4137, Pilot Point, TX 76258-8944
Phone: (940) 686-2148


2. Black Gap WMA

Size: 103,127 acres

Bordering the Big Bend National Park to the northwest and the Mexican State of Coahuila to the south and east, this memorably named wildlife management area is located in the Chihuahuan desert, just 55 miles south of Marathon.

As can be seen from the entrance in the above image, this WMA was established to support desert bighorn sheep numbers in Texas. With numbers now thriving, bighorn sheep hunting is available, however it’s limited to youth hunts and guided hunts.

Hunting: dove, teal, quail, rabbit, javelina, mule deer, coyote, bighorn sheep.

Address: 49476 FM 2627 Hwy, Alpine, TX 79830, USA
Phone: (432) 376-2216

1. Sam Houston National Forest

Size: 162,984 acres

Though only one of four National Forests in Texas, at the time of writing, this one provides the best opportunities for the hunting enthusiast, with the largest area and variety of huntable species of any public land in Texas.

With Lake Livingston to the northeast, Lake Conroe to the southwest and only 50 miles north of Houston, the Sam Houston National Forest provides some wonderful and easily accessible recreational opportunities.

For the hunter, white-tailed deer, eastern squirrels and feral hogs are the specialties here and for the general wildlife enthusiast, there are rare birds to be found, including eagles and red-cockaded woodpeckers.

Hunting: deer archery, deer general, deer muzzleloader, feral hog, dove, teal, waterfowl, other migratory birds, quail, squirrel, rabbit, coyotes, furbearers, trapping.

Address: 394 FM 1375 West, New Waverly, Texas 77358
Phone: (936) 344-6205


So, there you have it, public hunting, Texas-style! Be sure to let us know about your experiences hunting this truly great, in every sense of the word, state.

Send to us, together with any trail camera or hunting related questions, on Facebook or Twitter, where we’ll be happy to respond.

Till then, happy trails from the WingHome team!


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