Plan the perfect hunt before the Texas deer season ends
Texas has more white-tail deer than any other state – somewhere between three and four million of them – and when hunting season rolls around, hunters all over the state have plenty of opportunities to bag a trophy. When you're planning your next Texas deer hunt, it's important to know when hunting season begins, and just as importantly, when it ends.
White-tail deer hunting seasons
White-tail deer inhabit areas all over the Lone Star State. Hunting seasons are subject to change, but at the time of publication, hunting season for white-tail deer kicks off on November 4 statewide. Across most of Texas, the season ends on January 7, but 30 counties in South Texas have a little extra time, with the season stretching until January 21. Check the official Texas Parks & Wildlife Department hunting regulations to learn when the hunting season ends in each county.
Mule deer hunting seasons
Texas also supports a population of mule deer, especially in areas west of the Pecos River and in parts of the Texas Panhandle. Mule deer hunting seasons vary quite a bit, depending on where you live:
- Panhandle: November 18 to December 3
- Southwest Panhandle: November 18 to 26
- Trans-Pecos: November 24 to December 10
- Brewster, Pecos and Terrell Counties: November 24 to December 10
In many parts of Texas, special hunting seasons provide an opportunity to hunt for deer before or after the general season. Archery season for both white-tail and mule deer begins September 30 and ends November 3 in certain counties, while other counties do not have a special archery season. Certain counties also have a muzzleloader-only season for white-tail deer from January 8 to 21. A youth-only hunting season for white-tail deer is open from October 28 to 29, and January 8 to 21 across most of the state.
Timing your hunt
While it's impossible to precisely pinpoint the best time to go deer hunting in Texas, a few general rules apply. The early part of the season typically offers some of the best hunting, with deer growing increasingly wary as the season wears on. If you can plan your hunting trip mid-week, you'll be more likely to have the woods to yourself, especially when hunting on public lands.
Conventional wisdom holds that the best time to be in the field is during the height of the rut – a period when bucks have breeding on their mind and become much less cautious – but the trouble is that it's nearly impossible to predict when this will take place. A study by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department suggests that rutting bucks can actually be found throughout most of the hunting season and that the most consistently successful hunters are those who don't restrict their efforts to any one time.
Know before you go
The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department publishes an annual guide to hunting and fishing regulations, which includes all hunting seasons listed both by species and by county. This guide is available online and anywhere hunting licenses are sold. All hunters must have a valid Texas hunting license, regardless of age. For safety, all hunters on public lands must wear at least 400 square inches of fluorescent orange hunting clothing, including 144 square inches on both the chest and back, along with fluorescent orange headwear. Hunting is permitted from one half-hour before sunrise until one half-hour after sunset.