Citing public opposition and the leadership of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, TPWD staff recently rescinded a proposed rule change to legalize the use of firearms to take white-tailed deer during general seasons, youth and special permits for managed lands in Grayson, Collin, Rockwall and Dallas counties.

The proposal, made official in January, also called for the removal of the ban on the use of crossbows during archery-only season, the creation of a four-day firewood-free season around the Thanksgiving holiday and mandatory declaration of all deer and antlerless deer harvests. .

The aforementioned counties have been designated for years as “archery only” counties. Unlike most of Texas, hunters in the four counties are restricted to archery gear and crossbows only for deer hunting throughout the general hunting season. However, crossbows are prohibited during the month-long archery season only, except for hunters with upper limb disabilities.

Grayson County has been open to archery only since 1999; Dallas, Rockwall and Collin counties since 2012.

The proposed changes follow a petition for rulemaking filed last June by Dr. Harry Jacobsen of Athens and Tim Condict of Seminole. A similar petition was filed for Grayson County in 2008, but opposition from bowhunters prevented TPWD from submitting a formal proposal.

The most recent proposal has drawn significant opposition from local archers as well as county and town leaders. More than 200 people reportedly showed up at a March 9 TPWD public hearing in Denison, including state and local politicians who stood with area hunters in favor of preserving the region’s regulations on bow hunting only.

Prior to the hearing, the Grayson and Collin County Commissioners’ Courts passed resolutions opposing the idea of ​​allowing guns for deer hunting in their respective counties. The towns of Anna and Sherman also filed letters opposing the change. A change.org petition was submitted containing over 2,000 opposition signatures.

Alan Cain, TPWD’s white-tailed deer program manager, said he received 743 comments from the public on the issue, with 66% opposing the proposal.

Cain presented the amended proposal to the commission at its March 24 regulatory hearing in Austin. He said the decisions to take the rifle hunt, crossbow ban and designated doe days off the table were made at the direction of the commissioners a day earlier during the working session of the TPW Commission.

TPW Commission Vice-Chairman Dick Scott of Wimberly said the commissioners considered all aspects of the proposal and public comment in their decision.

“Commissioners considered feedback from community members, hunters, landowners and area leaders, as well as data on deer population densities before making a decision to modify a proposed rule. that would have allowed for a gun season,” Scott said. “Ultimately, the commission was not convinced that this change was warranted in the entire affected area.”

The commissioners passed the mandatory reporting segment of the original proposal, Cain said. Beginning next fall, archers in all four counties will be required to report all deer harvests to the department using the free My Texas Hunt Harvest mobile app or the My Texas Hunt Harvest webpage.

Cain said the mandatory reporting will provide biologists with useful data to monitor the annual deer harvest in an area of ​​Texas where valuable habitat is being swallowed up by urban sprawl.

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