Deer hunting season is well underway and duck season fast approaching. In order to ensure a safe and legal harvest, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens have been enforcing safety rules and regulations.


Wardens keep tabs on Grayson County hunters and wildlife by spending time in the field, checking trail cameras and speaking with area taxidermists.


Here are five things to know about the hunting rules and regulations in Grayson County.


1. Rules and limits


The general season for white-tailed deer runs through Jan. 5 and any deer taken in Grayson County must be harvested by archery equipment or crossbow.


TPWD Game Warden Daron Blackerby said this stipulation allows deer to grow larger, which many hunters appreciate, but only one buck with inside antler spread of 13 inches or more can be taken.


“Grayson County has a two-buck, two-doe limit,” Blackerby said. ” On the bucks, you’re allowed one trophy deer and one deer that’s a spike or a spike on one side.”


Regular duck season begins Nov. 9 and ends Jan. 26, but there is no hunting allowed Dec. 2-6. For ducks, the total limit is six per day, but within that limit hunters are allowed no more than five mallards, three wood ducks, three scaup, two redheads, two canvasback, one pin tail and one dusky.


2. Hunt safe and smart


If a hunter chooses to head out alone, Blackerby said it’s important to share those plans with a friend or family member in advance.


“Give somebody a heads up, and let them know where you’re headed and when you’ll be back,” Blackerby said. “That way, if you don’t come back within a certain amount of time, they know that it might be time to start looking for you. And, leave somebody your phone number so they can get a hold of you.”


Hunters are also reminded to look beyond their sights before taking a shot.


“Know what you’re shooting at and know your surroundings,” Blackerby said. “That projectile could travel through an animal, or if you’re shooting at a duck up in the air, those pellets are going to carry a good distance.”


3. Bring ID and documentation


“Our Texas Parks and Wildlife code requires that people have valid identification and their hunting license while they’re out,” Blackerby said. “That allows us to verify who a person is and that they’re not using someone else’s hunting license. It’s against the law to put somebody else’s tags on a deer or an animal that you harvested.”


4. Where to hunt


“There’s a lot of U.S. Army Corps land here around Lake Texoma and even some wildlife management area on Lake Ray Roberts,” Blackerby said. “However, the Lake Ray Roberts area requires a Type 2 permit which is the annual public hunting permit available for $48. As for Lake Texoma, you’ve got to have a resident hunting license and the proper endorsement to hunt whatever game you’re after.”


To use private land, hunters must be granted permission by the property owner.


Landholders or direct agents who are enrolled in the Managed Lands Deer Program are responsible for providing MLDP tags to the hunters. All hunters using MLDP tags are required to possess a resident or non-resident general hunting license.


5. Wardens are watching


Blackerby said the vast majority of hunters abide by rules, but there are always some who don’t. Most hunting violations amount to lower-level misdemeanors and result in only a fine, but some can lead to jail time and the permanent loss of hunting privileges.


“The severity of punishment can jump up pretty quick,” Blackerby said. “In the instances where somebody hunts on another person’s land without permission, that bumps up to a Class A misdemeanor with possibly a year in jail and a $4,000 fine,” Blackerby said. “And if you actually harvest a deer or wildlife on someone else’s property without permission, you could potentially be looking at a felony.”


In addition to fines, hunters found guilty of poaching in Texas may also be forced to pay civil restitution which can total well beyond $10,000 in some cases.


“The more valuable, protected or prized an animal is, the more valuable that resource is to the state,” Blackerby said.


Blackerby said the public also plays an important role in ensuring that Texas’s natural resources are used responsibly.


“I tell people that I rely on them to be my eyes and ears,” Blackerby said. “If you see something going on and you believe it to be wrong, get whatever information you can, like the location, date, time, and a license plate number. Give us a call and let us know what’s going on.”


For more information about the 2019 Texas hunting seasons, visit http://www.tpwd.texas.gov and search outdoor annual.


Drew Smith is the crime and emergency reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at asmith@heralddemocrat.com.