Pronghorn season dates, squirrel regs part of TPWD’s '21 proposals

Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat

While the Lone Star State’s 2020-21 slate of fall and winter hunting seasons concluded last Sunday as the “Closed for Business” sign was put out for Texas quail hunters, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is already hard at work for next year.

That work includes the recent unveiling of a number of hunting regulation proposals for the 2021-22 license year, changes that are up for discussion and approval at the March 25, 2021 public hearing in Austin for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

In fact, there are a number of proposals for next season, potential changes that include clarification on method of take, regulations concerning the use of dogs to track wounded deer, increasing the statewide pronghorn season dates, expanding squirrel hunting opportunities and making modifications to spring and fall turkey hunting regulations in some locales.

According to a TPWD news release, new hunting reg proposals from the agency’s wildlife staff include the following: adding crossbow to the definition of lawful archery equipment; modifying the muzzleloader definition to clarify only the bullet or projectile must be loaded through the muzzle; establishing the season dates and bag limits for all migratory game bird hunting seasons; adding two days of hunting opportunity in the Special White-winged Dove Area (SWWDA) within the South Dove Zone; and modifying opening day for chachalacas to be concurrent with quail season

Other hunting proposals include removing the prohibition on trailing wounded deer with dogs in Angelina, Hardin, Nacogdoches, Orange, Shelby and Tyler counties; allowing for the trailing of wounded deer to no more than two dogs on a leash in Jasper, Newton, Sabine and San Augustine counties; allowing for a statewide squirrel hunting season by opening the remaining closed counties to year-round hunting; and eliminating the experimental pronghorn season in the northern Panhandle while also expanding the general pronghorn season from 9-16 days statewide.

A number of turkey hunting proposals are also being made including the closure of Panola County to hunting Eastern turkey season during the spring; implementing mandatory reporting for spring turkey hunting (April 1-30) in the “Western 1 Gobbler” counties in southcentral Texas; and aligning spring and fall wild turkey hunting seasons with consistent North and South Zone boundaries along Highway 90.

TPWD notes in its news release that the public is encouraged to provide comment concerning these proposals and that comments for and against these regulation proposals will be considered before any action is taken by the Commission later this month.

Opportunities to provide public comment include a Zoom webinar on Tuesday, March 16 at 7 p.m. when TPWD wildlife staff will present the proposed changes and take on questions. TPWD said in its news release that the webinar will also be posted on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

For those wishing to comment by e-mail, the following options exist. For proposals about migratory game birds, upland game birds, and squirrel hunting proposals, contact Shaun Oldenburger at shaun.oldenburger@tpwd.texas.gov. For proposals concerning pronghorn antelope, contact Shawn Gray at shawn.gray@tpwd.texas.gov; And for methods of take proposals, contact Alan Cain at alan.cain@tpwd.texas.gov.

The TPW Commission will also take public comments on the proposed 2021-22 changes at its meeting on Thursday, March 25 in Austin. Those wishing to provide public testimony are required to pre-register in order to speak and are reminded that such testimony is limited to three minutes per person.

Finally, public comments can also be provided to the TPWD public comment page until March 24. To find that page, visit www.tpwd.texas.gov or call the agency’s toll-free number at -800-792-1112 for more information.