AUSTIN, Texas – One of the state of Texas' annual hunting traditions – the mailing of paper applications in the hopes of being drawn for coveted special hunt permits – will change in a big way this summer.
That's because the familiar Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's (TPWD) Applications for Drawings on Public Hunting Land booklets, a late summertime mailbox staple for many years, will officially be no more.
This year, TPWD is going green when it comes to the state's public hunt drawing system for special draw permits to hunt white-tailed deer, desert mule deer, desert bighorn sheep, javelinas, feral hogs, Rio Grande turkeys, and even exotic species like the aoudad sheep.
Beginning later this summer, the Austin-based agency will now only accept hunter applications for such hunt permits – including those in eight different youth-only categories – by way of a paperless online system found on the TPWD Web site.
TPWD officials indicate that the new system will give hunters a chance to browse the various hunt categories online, to apply for and to pay the application fee online, and to look at interactive maps of the locations where special permit hunts are offered.
The agency indicates in a news release that the new online system will allow for hunters to apply for multiple areas within the same hunt category in addition to giving those hunters more time to apply.
Instead of the previous 5 p.m. deadline on the day that applications must be received at TPWD headquarters, the new online system will allow for applications to be submitted all the way to midnight on the deadline day.
Application deadlines for permits to be awarded for hunts during the 2014-15 license year will start late this summer and run into early next year, depending on the species.
Current non-refundable application fees for TPWD's draw hunts vary in price from $3 to $10 each per adult applicant (17 years of age and older), again depending on the species.
Selected adult hunters will be notified by e-mail and will then have to pay an online permit fee of either $80 for regular hunts or $130 for extended hunts.
The agency reports that there are no application costs or draw hunt permit fees for youth between the ages of 8 and 16.
TPWD indicates that online applicants will retain and continue to accrue preference points – now called Loyalty Points – just as they did in past years of the paper applications. The agency says that loyalty points will stay with the various hunt categories and be applied equally to each online application.
Applicants not selected in the initial online drawings can still be eligible for special hunt permits since TPWD indicates that leftover permits could be awarded if any remain unclaimed after the payment deadlines.
As was the case under the old paper catalog and mail-in drawing system, there could be some potential standby hunting opportunities available too.
TPWD reports that the new online-only drawing system will begin accepting electronic applications in July 2014 for upcoming draw hunts scheduled to take place during the 2014-15 license year.
Applications for other hunts either offered by or managed by TPWD – including Special Permit hunts, E-Postcard hunts, and U.S. Forest Service antlerless deer permits – also will see applications begin to be accepted next month.
For additional information about TPWD's new online hunt permit drawing system, either call the agency's toll free number at 1-800-792-1112 or visit the TPWD Web site at www.tpwd.state.tx.us.