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Ask The Lawyer

Posted by: tdt -

“Do I have to get a hunting license?”

    Question:  Can you explain the law about deer hunting licenses?  I don’t usually go hunting, but I was asked to go this year.  Do I have to get a hunting license, what is the cost, and how does it all work?  I don’t want to get in trouble if I don’t handle this right.

    Answer:  Yes.  The Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 42, deals with the general hunting license and requires anyone who hunts within the State of Texas to obtain a license.  A few exceptions are written within the Code.

    Many issues are covered within the Code, including who must obtain a hunting license and the Code states that “ no person may possess the carcass of a deer before the carcass has been finally processed at a final destination unless there is attached to the carcass a properly executed deer tag from a hunting license provided by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and issued to the person who killed the deer.”  Whether a person hunts every hunting season or only once in a lifetime, the license is required.

    The code also covers the fee for a resident hunting license, which is eight dollars or an amount set by the commission, whichever amount is more.  The fee may be waived by the commission for residents who are under 17-years-old, 65-years-old and older, or participating in an event that is sponsored or co-sponsored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with the approval of the executive director. 

    The commission must waive the fee for a qualified disabled veteran and for a resident on active duty as a member of the United States military forces, the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard, or the Texas State Guard.

    Hunting licenses are valid only during the yearly period for which the license is issued and each yearly period begins on September 1, or on another date set by the commission, and extends through August 31 of the next year.  The tag that must be attached to the deer is properly executed only when the month and the date of the kill are cut out and the tag is filled out to show the place the deer to which the tag is attached was killed and to show other information required on the tag by the commission.  Unfortunately, some hunters attempt to make it to the processing location without affixing the tag, in hopes of being able to hunt again.  The consequences for that violation are not worth the risk.

    Other rules state that if a deer’s head is severed from the carcass, the properly executed tag must remain with the carcass.   If a portion of the carcass is divided among persons and separated and the person who killed the deer retains a portion of the carcass, that person must retain the tag with the portion of the carcass they keep.  Also, final processing for a deer carcass may occur only at a final destination.  The definition for terms such as “carcass” and “final destination” are provided in the Code.

    Some hunters do not have to follow the rules for placing the tag on the deer.  A landowner or the landowner’s agent operating under a wildlife management plan approved by the department is, if authorized by the commission, exempt from the tag requirements of the Code.  Determining if that exemption applies should be dealt directly with the department.

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