Texas Hunting Licenses Go On Sale August 15

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©TPWD/Photo by Chris HaysAUSTIN, Texas — New hunting and fishing licenses for 2008-09 will be available beginning Friday, Aug. 15, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is encouraging hunters to buy early and avoid the rush heading into the Sept. 1 dove season opener.

“If you wait until the Labor Day Weekend, you’re probably going to be standing in line to buy a license,” said Tom Newton with TPWD’s licensing section. “Savvy hunters have figured it out and are buying their licenses early.”

Sportsmen are reminded all current annual hunting and fishing licenses (except for the year-to-date fishing license) expire Aug. 31. Texas issues 2.1 million hunting and fishing licenses annually through 28 TPWD field offices, more than 65 state parks and at over 1,500 retailers across Texas.

Because dove season in the North and Central Dove Zones opens on a Monday, Newton predicts there will be a weekend rush to buy licenses. “Last year, we sold over 350,000 licenses during the four-day period around the opening weekend of dove season,” he recalled. “It takes an average of three-to-five minutes to process a license sale transaction, so it’s likely there will be delays if you wait ‘til the last minute.”

By comparison, Newton said the department averaged less than 20,000 license transactions a day during the two weeks prior to the dove season opener as opposed to five or six times that number on the days around opening weekend.

A last-minute license purchase rush is probably inevitable in some areas of the state, TPWD officials say, particularly along the I-35 corridor where many dove hunters descend. Fortunately, there are other license buying avenues available.

“Hunters who need to purchase a license at the last minute or those who don’t want to stand in line have a couple of options,” said Newton. “They can also purchase licenses online through the TPWD web site (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/) or by calling (800) 895-4248. There is a $5 convenience fee for either option and a major credit card is required.”

License sales call center hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday — Friday. The online transaction system is available 24/7.

“We sold about 4,500 licenses online and by phone during the peak sales weekend last year,” Newton said. “We’d like to steer more of the traffic to the call center and Internet during the peak volume periods.”

A license confirmation number is issued at the time of purchase for online and phone orders, and the physical license is mailed separately. Confirmation numbers will verify that a license has been purchased, which is sufficient for dove hunting, but will not allow hunters to take fish or wildlife that requires a tag.

“Some people are using the convenience options to purchase licenses for everyone in their family or hunting group,” Newton said. “It can help ensure that everybody who shows up to hunt, especially those coming in from out of state or kids coming in from college, already have a hunting license waiting for them. You can buy a license for someone else, even at the retail counter, but to avoid delays please be sure you have all their personal information.”

In addition to a hunting license, all wing shooters will need to purchase a game bird stamp. To hunt doves or teal in September, a Migratory Game Bird Stamp ($7) is required. Duck hunters also need to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp and receive HIP (Harvest Information Program) certification. HIP certification will be printed on the license at the time of sale only after the purchaser answers a few brief migratory bird questions. Lifetime license holders must also be HIP-certified and purchase the Federal Duck Stamp to hunt migratory birds. All other state stamp endorsements are included with a lifetime license

“Remember, it’s your responsibility to make sure you are properly licensed, so be sure to check your license before you leave the sales counter,” Newton said. “We do get a fair number of requests for re-issuance of licenses because the hunter forgot to get HIP certified.”

There are other mandatory endorsements to consider at the time of purchase, too. An Upland Game Bird Stamp ($7) is required to hunt all non-migratory game birds, including turkey, quail, pheasant, chachalaca and lesser prairie chicken.

Of course, anyone who purchases the Super Combo license package, the best bang for the buck, automatically gets these needed stamps.

Hunter Education Certification is also required of any hunter born on or after Sept. 2, 1971 and who is at least 17 years old. For hunters who are unable to work in a hunter education class before hunting season for whatever reason, TPWD does offer a deferral option.

The deferral option allows people 17 years of age or older a one-time only extension to complete the state’s hunter education requirements. The individual must first purchase a hunting license and then may purchase the deferral option.

Hunters using the deferral must be accompanied by someone 17 years old or older who is also licensed to hunt in Texas. The accompanying individual must have completed hunter education or be exempt from the requirements (born before Sept. 2, 1971). The extension is good for one license year, by which time the person with the deferred option needs to complete a hunter education course.

This option is not available to those who have ever received a conviction or deferred adjudication for lack of hunter education certification. They still must take the course before going afield.