January 25, 2016
INSIDE FISH & GAME by Roy and Ardia Neves
January 25, 2016

Skyrocketing East Texas Lease Fees

I am 56 years of age. Live in Jefferson County. Hunt in Tyler County. About 80 miles to drive.

Been doing so on my own for 43 years, chasing squirrels at first. During deer season I sometimes sat on a high line right-of-way with a 12 gauge waiting for the dogs to run a deer by. I mostly failed at deer hunting ’til I took up a bow about the age of 25.

My family and friends have been hunting the same land for 50-plus years. Way back then, I learned it as the Dam-B hunting club. My first paying year (1976) as a member was to Tyler Wildlife Management. The cost, $25, got me in the gate for the 4th of July week for scouting purposes. Then gates stayed open  from Labor Day weekend and closed February 1st.

Hunting the same property all this time I have taken many deer with my bow. Including one that made the Port Arthur News as the Phantom Buck. Not quite sure about the year (1985-88 maybe).

As the years went by lease cost rose. In 2004 the timber company stopped collecting monies from individuals. With positive and encouraging words of the current range master I was asked to manage 4000 plus acres. The cost, $500 per gun.

Our hunter percentage for deer harvest was at 50 to 65 percent at 42 members. One of our key rules was only one antlerless deer taken during the general gun season. And eventually we got on the LAMPS program. The basis for one antlerless, was for every doe harvested we lost 3 deer. The doe herself and the 2 offspring for next year. Tyler County is a 2 antlerless deer county, until the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Unless LAMPS of MLD permits are issued.

In 2009 Texas Parks and Wildlife brought in the Antler Restriction rule.

Our first year was two 13 inch antlered, 15 spikes and a few does. In the following years our hunter percentage for deer harvest dropped to less than 25 percent at 42 members

Last year we went to $1,000 per gun, with 33 Members. We harvested 5 does, 2 spikes, and one 13 inch “Shooter”.

So far this year we have harvested 5 antlerless (1 doe and 5 button bucks) and one13-inch shooter. The doe’s age, approximately 2 years. And I have seen some impressive pictures of antlered deer taken by game cameras at night. What is not being caught on camera is older full grown does.

My belief is that with the 13 inch rule a lot of hunters went to harvesting antlerless deer. Freezers starting getting empty. Remember the thought “for every doe harvested we lost 3 deer”. And that back pocket sensation of the rising cost of private deer leases did not help any either.

With the new rule came mistakes of deer with less than 13 inches. And made some hunters poachers, for not turning themselves in. Scared, embarrassed, fear of lost lease membership, a lot of deer may have fallen without being recorded.

The last 4 to 5 years I have seen leases double in cost of membership. I have seen lease memberships drop, and truly harder to fill leases. I have seen the deer population drop. I have seen one man go before a Judge to explain himself for taking a 12 ¾ inch spread buck. All the while, when looking at the ears in alert position the antlers where beyond the horns. I have spent way too much time sitting in a blind waiting for a deer to be seen. Just a few years ago I would sit and watch the does being chased by young bucks.

I wish the State of Texas, when implementing the 13 inch rule, also made those counties a one antlerless harvest. I still believe today that Tyler County should be a one antlerless harvest. Along with other area counties until the hunter harvest percentage is proven to be 50 percent plus of antlered deer harvest.

Jody Hoyt

Editor: Very interesting observations Jody. The rule seems to have had lots of different kinds of impact all across the spectrum. Thanks for your feedback.


Question for Dustin


Can you shoot your LaRue 762 suppressed without ears? 

Heath (no last name given)

Yes, my OBR (16-inch) with Gemtech Sandstorm suppressor is plenty quiet without ears. I have had others mention how quiet it is as well, and this might be due to the cool OBR gas cut off switch for suppressors as well as my handloads. I had a buddy of mine run the QuickLoad reloading program on his computer and we found that IMR 3031 powder burns 100 percent in a 16-inch barrel. This might cut down noise and suppressor burn. I don’t have scientific proof of that but it sounds like a good theory to me. Thanks for reading TFG!

Dustin Ellermann

Wild Kingdom 

Loved the feature on Jim Fowler. Didn’t know he was still around. Glad to hear it. I too was a big fan of Wild Kingdom. So much better than most of the garbage on TV today. In my younger years, I wanted to be just like Fowler, jumping out of boats to wrestle anacondas and such.

John N. Felsher

What a cool story on Jim Fowler! Thanks for recognizing we hunters and fishers love wildlife and putting some of these kinds of stories in the magazine.

Gene Thompson

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Texas Fish & Game

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Minn Kota



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