Applications for refuge hunt permits now open

The first Sunday of every month Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge offers free entry to the park. By Diana Eva Maldonado, Valley Morning Star

HARLINGEN — Valley sportsmen and women in the hunt to take big game can now apply for permits for the fall season and hunts for exotics next year at two area wildlife refuges.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department handles applications for Laguna Atascosa and the Lower Rio Grande Valley refuges, where permit holders can take white-tailed deer, nilgai antelope and feral hogs.

In all, more than 9,000 permits will be issued this year by TPWD for hunts on both public and private lands across Texas. Other big game animals available at sites outside the Valley include mule deer, pronghorn antelope, turkey, alligator, exotic gemsbok and scimitar-horned oryx.

Laguna Atascosa

Laguna Atascosa gun hunts will be available this fall on Units 2, 3, 5 and 8 only. Gun hunting dates are Dec. 6-8, 13-15, 20-22 and Jan. 3-5 and 10-12.

Bag limits are two white-tailed deer of either sex but not more than one buck. There are no bag limits on taking nilgai or feral hogs.

Permissible weapons are centerfire rifles and muzzle loaders .40-caliber and larger. Handguns are not allowed.

The refuge is making 175 permits available at a cost of $80 for adults. Youths ages 9 through 16 can hunt free. Last year 3,316 people applied for fall gun hunt permits at Laguna.

Archery hunts at Laguna will be conducted in units 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 8 only. Hunt dates are Oct. 25-29, Nov. 1-5, Nov. 15-19 and Nov. 22-26.

Bag limits are the same as the firearms hunt.

The number of permits available to bow hunters this year is 800. Fees are $130 per adult and free for youths 9 to 16. Last year 1,176 archery hunters applied.

Next spring, Laguna will offer 25 permits to hunt exotics with centerfire rifles or muzzleloaders .40-caliber or larger from April 3-5. Permits are $80.

Lower RGV refuge

The Lower RGV refuge is offering permits for fall and winter gun hunts on the East Lake tract which is near La Sal del Rey in northeast Hidalgo County.

Hunt dates are Nov. 15-17, 22- 24 and Dec. 6- 8. In January, hunting is allowed from the 10th through the 12th.

Bag limits at this refuge are the same as at Laguna. Muzzle loaders of .40-caliber or larger or shotguns with slugs are allowed.

The refuge is making 32 permits available. The cost is $80 per adult and free for youth hunters ages 9 to 16.

Last year, 1,697 applications to hunt the area were made.

For archery hunting, the Lower RGV refuge is offering 240 permits to hunt the entire Teniente area.

Hunt dates are Nov. 7-10, Nov. 14-17, Dec. 5-8, Dec. 12-15, Jan. 2-5 and Jan 9-12.

Bag limits are the same as for gun hunts. This year 240 permits are available and permit holders will pay $130 for adults with no charge for youth hunters.

Last year there were 1,106 applications for archery hunting for the Teniente area.

The refuge also is offering gun hunts for exotics, nilgai and feral hogs, at both East Lake and Teniente next year, Hunt dates are Jan. 30-Feb. 2, Feb. 6-9, Feb. 20-23 and Feb. 27-March 1. Fees are $80 per adult hunter. Thirty-two permits are available.

Statewide, TPWD received 162,000 applications for hunting permits last season.

“ Overall, our hunts will pretty much operate the same as last season,” said Kelly Edmiston, TPWD public hunting program coordinator. “Youth applications will be still be limited to three per youth category while hunters applying for an USFS Antlerless Deer Permit will be limited to applying for one forest service unit and must have a purchased a 2019-20 Annual Public Hunting Permit beforehand.”

Drawn hunt opportunities can be viewed online by category or by area via an interactive map and all applications, fee payments and permit issuance are handled electronically. To participate, applicants will need internet access, an email address and a credit or debit card. The Customer ID number from the applicant’s hunting or fishing license is one of the easy ways to access the system.

Permit overview

Online-only applications
Email notification will be sent to drawn applicants
License ID number is your identifier
Pay with credit card on secure website
Check status of application at any time
Permits purchased online and sent by email
Website: https://tinyurl.com/yx8nztwb

Permit deadlines

Sept. 15 — National refuge general deer
Oct. 1 — National refuge youth general deer
Oct. 15 — National refuge exotic

rkelley@valleystar.com