The fall hunting and fishing season is just around the corner. 

In Texas the action never really ceases even with hunting as we have year-round exotic and fears hog options. However the peak of the action starts Sept. 1 with dove season and ends in January with the closing of deer and duck season for the most of the state.

August 31 is not just the gateway to hunting seasons, it is also the annual renewal date for hunting and fishing licenses.

During that period is arguably the best fishing of the year particularly along the coast where anglers catch bull reds in the surf, flounder leaving the bays and speckled trout and slot-sized reds under the birds.

Before anyone does anything in the outdoors it is important to remember to license up so we have information on license requirements from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

Generally, fishing and hunting licenses and endorsements are valid from the date of sale through August 31 of the same year. Temporary hunting and fishing licenses and packages, Year-from-Purchase fishing licenses and Lake Texoma fishing licenses have different expiration dates.

Snakes are out in full force in October, as hunters begin venturing into the field.


A resident is a person who has lived continuously in Texas for more than six months immediately before applying for a license. Members of the United States Armed Forces (and their dependents) on active duty anywhere are entitled to purchase a resident license, but the Texas Resident Active Duty Military “Super Combo” package is available to Texas residents only. 

The term “active duty” means full-time duty in active military service, including the National Guard and Reserves of the United States. Such term includes full-time training duty and attendance while in the active military service at a school designated as a service school by law or by the Secretary of the military department concerned. 

Non-residents under 17 years of age are designated as residents for hunting license purposes (not valid for Lifetime Licenses).

Residency is proven by any three of the following (all documents must reflect the applicant’s name and a physical address in Texas). Items marked with an asterix (*) must have been issued at least six months prior to license or permit application. Except for a valid drivers license or a state issued identification card, documentation is not required at time of purchases or while hunting or fishing:

• a current Texas homestead property tax statement

• the most recent six months of utility bills

• the most recent six months of paycheck receipts

• the person’s most recent tax return from the Internal Revenue Service

• a statement from a parole board or probation officer stating that the person has continuously resided in Texas for the six months immediately preceding the application for a license or permit

• a valid Texas driver’s license*

• a current Texas voter registration certificate*

• a current vehicle registration*


A non-resident is any person who does not meet the requirements listed for qualification as a Texas resident. License feeds for non-residents are quite a bit higher than those for resident hunters and fishermen.


A number of “endorsements,” historically called “stamps” are available for purchase with fishing packages and hunting licenses at the time a license is purchased. All fishing and all combination packages include one or more endorsements. Additional endorsements are available for purchase anytime during the effective date of the license/package. Actual stamps with pictures on them are no longer issued with hunting and fishing licenses.

2017-2018 SEASONS

In your quest to get ready for the best outdoors opportunities you must plan well and that means knowing the season dates. The following are the verified season dates for wildlife regulated by the state.

In the case of waterfowl and dove it is based on federal decisions and those frameworks have not been set yet, however we know dove season always begins in most of the state Sept. 1

White-tailed Deer

*General Season

North Zone: Nov. 4, 2017 – Jan. 7, 2018

South Zone: Nov. 4, 2017 – Jan. 21, 2018

*Special Late Season

North Zone: Jan. 8 – 21, 2018

South Zone: Jan. 22 – Feb. 4, 2018

*Youth-Only Seasons

Early Season: Oct. 28 – 29, 2017

Late Season: Jan. 8 – 21, 2018

*Archery Season

Sep. 30 – Nov. 3, 2017

*Muzzleloader-Only Season

Jan. 8 – 21, 2018


*East Texas: Oct. 1, 2017 – Feb. 25, 2018 & May 1 – 31, 2018

*Other Open Counties: Sep. 1, 2017 – Aug. 31, 2018

*Special Youth Season: Sep. 23 – 24, 2017


*Panhandle: Dec. 2 – 31, 2017


*Sep. 30 – Oct. 8, 2017


*Statewide: Oct. 28, 2017 – Feb. 25, 2018


*North Zone: Oct. 1, 2017 – Feb. 25, 2018

*South Zone: Sep. 1, 2017 – Aug. 31, 2018

Rio Grande Turkey

*Fall Season

North Zone: Nov. 4, 2017 – Jan. 7, 2018

South Zone: Nov. 4, 2017 – Jan. 21, 2018

Brooks, Kenedy, Kleberg & Willacy counties: Nov. 4, 2017 – Feb. 25, 2018

*Archery-Only: Sep. 30 – Nov. 3, 2017

*Fall Youth-Only

Early: Oct. 28 – 29, 2017

Late: Jan. 8 – 21, 2018

*Spring Season

North Zone: Mar. 31 – May 13, 2018

South Zone: Mar. 17 – Apr. 29, 2018

One-turkey counties: April 1 – April 30, 2018

*Spring Youth-Only

North Zone: Mar. 24 – 25, 2018 & May 19 – 20, 2018

South Zone: Mar. 10 – 11, 2018 & May 5 – 6, 2018

*Eastern Turkey

Spring Season East Texas: Apr. 15 – May 14, 2018


The following are some tips that will help bowhunters in the upcoming season from accessing land to staying safe.

• There is plenty of public land for bowhunters in the eastern third of the state for those purchasing a $48 Annual Public Hunting Permit available through all license vendors. Most of these areas receive very little pressure in bow season and have great potential for deer hunting.

• The archery-only season runs through Nov. 1 but that was not always the case. In fact, until 2007 it ended several days before the general season began.

“There was no real reason for the break and it’s nice to see that change,” said TF&G Editor-at-Large Ted Nugent.

Nugent who now resides outside of Waco said the sheer amount of archery hunting opportunity in Texas is astounding.

“There are several reasons I live in Texas now and a big part of it is the amount of opportunity for bowhunting. There isn’t a region in the state without a strong deer population,” Nugent said.

TF&G Hunting Editor and master bowhunter education instructor Lou Marullo said the number one mistake he sees young hunters making in regards to shooting is not practicing with broadheads.     

“It is extremely rare to find a bow that shoots with field points exactly like it would with broadheads of the same grain. All you have to do is look at the physical differences and see that there are some serious aerodynamic differences,” he said.     

A number of broadhead makers claim their products match up to field points, but there are simply too many variables.  

“It’s an absolute must to get out there and shoot with broadheads before going hunting. Even if you are just off an inch or two that could mean the difference between taking a big buck and suffering the heartache of losing an animal,” Marullo said.      

When it comes to shooting broadheads at a target, there are many options on the market nowadays.

“When it comes to shooting broadheads, I have found 3-D targets with the removable core or vitals to be the best option although there are some good ones out there that are specific for broadheads as well,” Marullo said.     

Snakes are out in force during October and in fact can be found in areas like South Texas in particular throughout the entire deer season.

Be cautious while walking over deadfall and use extreme caution while blood trailing deer at night. Copperhead, cottonmouths and rattlesnakes tend to be more active after hours.

In addition to snakes, beware of ticks since they carry Lyme disease. Make sure and apply repellent that has Deet and check for ticks as soon as you get back to camp.


Savvy coastal anglers should look for emerging slicks, the small round spots of fish oil spilled when trout feed on shad and other prey items. The smaller the slick the better because it means the fish are still nearby. Avoid fishing slicks around crab traps. Those usually come from the bait inside.

Witnessing the blowup of a largemouth bass or big sow speck can be the most impressive or underwhelming thing an angler can witness. Sometimes they strike with such vigor they force the lure into the air causing the heart to skip a few beats. Many times, the signature of abig fish will be a simple “slurp” and the disappearance of the plug. The challenge in both scenarios is in the hands of the angler.

Big fish, whether a bass or a speckled trout, create an impressive blow-up but might miss hooking up on a surface plug.

Do not let a blowup fool you. Fish, even huge ones, can miss a plug and anglers probably miss most of them by attempting to set the hook before the fish has its mouth on it. Big predators push up a lot of water when they are hitting at something on the surface. It is best to get hit, count to two and then set the hook.

And if you miss the fish, it can pay to let the plug sit there and then gently twitch it.

Fishing under schooling gulls is a great way to catch speckled trout, striped bass and occasionally largemouths.

If you want to catch bigger trout than most anglers do under the birds try this.

Search out the smaller schools of trout that hang closer to the shorelines and slow down. Using a drift stock enables you to drift over these areas and fish a soft plastic slowly along the bottom or throw a popping cork rigged with a Gulp.

This also works good on the main lake with the bigger groups of birds, especially when you have the flock to yourself. Drift slowly through the feeding action or simply around baitfish you have located and fish with lures that stay close to the bottom like a Gulp or soft plastic on a jighead fished on a ¼-ounce jighead or a silver spoon.

A drift sock can be an invaluable tool by enabling you to drift far slower than you would under normal circumstances. They were first used by walleye fishermen up north but are in the boats of Texas anglers who know the importance of slowing down to catch big specks.


—story by Chester Moore


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