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Texas is one of the largest states in the US with a huge variety of game animals for hunters to track and bag. Some are ubiquitous across the US, like the white-tailed deer, while others, like the peccary, are largely found in Texas. Let’s check out some of the most common game animals you can hunt in Texas.
Classified as the most abundant big game animal in the US, Texas has its fair share of these deer throughout the state. In fact, Texas has the most out of any state, with an estimated 3–4 million white-tailed deer calling the Lone Star State home. In Texas alone, hunters bag about half a million white-tailed deer annually. Limits on how many deer you can hunt vary based on the county, and as with most states, antler restrictions apply, too.
Named after its large, mule-like ears, mule deer are mainly found west of the Pecos River and in the High Plains of the Texas panhandle. You can distinguish these from white-tailed deer by their ears and forked antlers, while white-tailed deer have branching antlers. Mule deer are also usually larger than white-tailed deer, with substantially higher body weights. Despite increased numbers a few decades ago, drought and lack of rainfall in their preferred habitats have caused dramatically reduced populations in recent years.
Native to North America, the pronghorn’s numbers have been declining steadily in recent years due to drought and livestock overgrazing. Another big problem facing the pronghorn is net wire fences, which they sometimes try to cross in search of food. Unfortunately, the pronghorn doesn’t know that it can jump the fences and get caught in them. In Texas, only qualified landowners in native counties will be issued permits to pronghorn because of their low numbers.
Only native to the southwestern US and parts of South America, the collared peccary looks like a smaller, thinner type of wild pig with quill-like fur and no tails. The name comes from the white “collars” of white fur around their necks. Also called javelina, these pigs have remarkably large canine teeth that they use to scare off predators. In most parts of Texas, there’s no particular season for hunting them, so you can hunt collared peccary year-round.
The desert bighorn sheep is a rare animal in Texas, with just seven herds of free-ranging bighorn sheep in the whole state. Scientists speculate that water availability is the main limiting factor preventing the species from growing too large, which is especially problematic in Texas. Very few permits are given out each year to hunt desert bighorn sheep, and only five counties in Texas are issued permits to hunt them. For these reasons, it’s a relatively prestigious animal to hunt.
Yes, even the common squirrel is considered a game animal in Texas! They’re known as nuisances in many areas, but some folks even eat them as a delicacy. Species range from the common squirrel, gray squirrel, and red squirrel. Squirrel season varies based on the county, but you can check on the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department website¹ to find out what the season is in your area.
Although Florida is widely known as the alligator state, Texas and eight other states have them as well. Once endangered, alligators have made a huge comeback everywhere they live, so hunting is typically allowed if regulated. There are very specific rules you must follow when hunting alligators in Texas, which you can find on the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department website¹.
Yes, you need a permit to hunt most game animals in Texas. The only exceptions are nuisance animals like coyotes and feral hogs, which can be killed by private landowners without holding a valid hunting permit. For most other hunting, you must apply for and hold a valid permit to hunt game in the state.
Texas is a huge state with a lot of game animals for hunters to track down, but the rules vary based on the animal. White-tailed deer and peccary are fairly standard, while desert bighorn sheep require special permission and residency requirements.
Featured Image Credit: Freeograph, Shutterstock
Codee Chessher is a freelance writer with extensive knowledge on a variety of subjects that include travel, sound engineering, automotive, optics, DIY, pets, and more. He has a colorful past that includes building schools and commercial driving, but the written word was always his first love and continues to be his passion. He believes there's nothing a well-worded sentence can't accomplish.
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