Gun hunting proposal for four Dallas-area counties, rebuffed by archery hunters

A proposal to allow the use of firearms to hunt white-tailed deer in four Dallas-area counties is drawing widespread comment ahead of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission’s March 24 regulatory hearing in Austin.

The proposed change could bring Collin, Grayson, Rockwall and Dallas counties under the broad umbrella of Texas counties where firearms can be used to take white-tailed deer during general seasons, youth and special permits for managed lands. In addition, the proposal aims to:

Remove the ban on the use of crossbows during the archery season.

Set up a four-day wood-free season around the Thanksgiving holiday.

And require the mandatory reporting of buck and antlerless deer catches.

Current bag limits would remain unchanged – two bucks with antlerless restrictions (one with an inside spread greater than 13 inches and one with at least one unbranched antler) and two does.

The aforementioned counties have been designated for years as “archery only” counties, where hunters are limited to archery equipment and crossbows for deer hunting throughout the season. general hunting. Crossbows are currently prohibited during the month-long archery season, except for hunters with upper limb disabilities.

Grayson County has been open to archery hunting only since 1999; Dallas, Rockwall and Collin counties since 2012.

The proposed change follows a petition for rulemaking filed last June by Harry Jacobson of Athens and Tim Condict of Seminole, according to Alan Cain, head of the TPWD’s whitetail deer program. A similar petition was filed for Grayson County in 2008, but TPWD chose not to move forward with a formal proposal due to opposition from bowhunters.

The current proposal made official in January is expected to be a point of contention at an upcoming public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Grayson College Center for Workplace Learning in Denison.

Region 5 TPWD District Wildlife Biologist Roger Wolfe of Tyler said he was looking for a full house and expects to hear a lot of opposition. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see over 100 people show up,” he said. “There is a lot of local opposition to this. The plan is to listen to what they have to say and make decisions.

Cain said he received 111 public comments on Wednesday — 40% in favor of a gun season and 60% against. Biologist says common concerns among naysayers are that a gun season could negatively impact deer populations and buck age structure, while encouraging poaching and creating potential safety issues with the discharge of firearms, especially on small properties.

Proponents of the proposal say implementing a gun season would not mean that individual property owners would have to allow gun hunting on their property. Additionally, Cain says some deer managers in Grayson County say current archery regulations make it extremely difficult to appropriately manage deer populations on high fence properties enrolled in the Land Deer Program. managed by TPWD.

Citing the discovery of the chronic wasting disease last year at a deer ranching facility in nearby Hunt County, Cain said allowing the taking of whitetails by gunfire could help manage deer populations. deer at lower deer densities to reduce the spread or contain the disease, if present in the free-ranging population. A gun season could also increase hunting opportunities and help property owners generate income from hunting businesses on their property, Cain said.

Public comments on this and other proposed changes to the hunting and fishing regulations under consideration will be accepted until 5 p.m. on March 23 on the TPWD’s online public comment page. The TPW Commission will also seek public comment on the proposed changes at its March 24 meeting.

A full list of proposals and an explanation of each is available on the TPWD website.

Matt Williams is a freelance writer based in Nacogdoches. He can be reached by email, [email protected].

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