Joshua Cordray

Deer Season: Texas Guide to Dates, Zones, and Info

We love deer season! We think about what we’re going to hunt, where we’re going to find the next big buck, and what gear we need before the season starts. After it’s over, it’s time to stuff the trophies, clean the gear, and plan for next year. Of course, planning for deer season means knowing a thing or two about the deer hunt zones in Texas, permits, licenses, regulations, and maybe even a lease of prime hunting land. We’ve got you covered in this article. Here’s the 30,000-foot overview of what you need to know to get ready for deer season.

Deer Season Texas: Dates, Zones and Species You Can Hunt

Fellas, as we all know, hunting season is the best part of the year, really, and nothing marks its arrival quite like preparing for deer season. In Texas, it’s a tradition as old as the Lone Star State itself. But getting it right means understanding the lay of the land, the timing, and what you’ve got in your crosshairs. In this article, we’ll cover Deer Season dates, thef distinctions between the North Zone and the South Zone, and precisely what type of deer you’ll be tracking. It’s not just about getting the big buck; it’s about the thrill of the hunt, the companionship, and respecting Texan hunting traditions. So, grab your gear and let’s get started on your Deer Hunting Season Texas guide.

When is the Deer Season in Texas?

Alright folks, let’s get straight to the point – we know what you’re itching to find out. When can I get back out there and hear that rush of the wind, the crackle of dry leaves underfoot, and the thrill of the hunt? For the 2023-2024 season, here’s the timeline:

  • North Zone, General Season: November 4, 2023 – January 7, 2024
  • South Zone, General Season: November 4, 2023 – January 21, 2024
  • North Zone, Special Late Season: January 8-21, 2024
  • South Zone, Special Late Season: January 22, 2024 – February 4, 2024

Now, remember, these dates might shuffle around a bit so always double-check with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Can’t have any unexpected surprises spoiling the hunt, right? 

What is the Difference Between North and South Zones?

When we talk about hunting in Texas, we often divide it into the North and South zones. The North Texas region consists of somewhat colder climate and diverse terrain, while South Texas is warmer with a flat, brushy landscape.

In terms of the deer population, the North Zone tends to have a higher density, while down South, the numbers drop a bit. It’s not just about the climate and terrain, the seasons and regulations also vary. Our good old North Zone has a longer hunting season and fewer restrictions, whereas the South Zone operates on a shorter calendar with stricter rules.

In the North Zone, you’ll find varied deer behavior, including migratory movements. Down in the South Zone, the deer have found their comfort spot in the consistent, brushy habitats. Hunting is an adventure and brings along its challenges. North Zone’s diverse terrain demands adaptable tactics, while South Zone’s thick brush requires precise shooting due to limited visibility. Trust me, knowing these differences can make your East Texas hunting experience a whole lot better!

Where is Each Zone Located?

Our beautiful Lone Star State is divided into the North Zone and South Zone for deer hunting. Think of it like this – everything from Del Rio, through to San Antonio and on to Houston, falls into the South Zone. Kinda straightforward, huh? But wait, it’s not all about guessing games. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has some trusty maps for you to check out. Whether you’re scouting for deer on private lands or access lands, these plots of land can pinpoint your hunting location.

So, don’t play roulette with acres of land – go with the official resources. Remember, a well-informed hunter is a successful one!

Which Species of Deer can be Found in Each Zone?

Deer habitats across Texas are as diverse as the deer themselves. Down in the Panhandle Plains, the wide-open spaces are playgrounds for both mule and white-tailed deer. In the South Texas Plains, the land’s lush and generous, especially for our favored white-tailed deer. Venture into the Hill Country if you want to come face-to-face with a crowd of white-tails—nowhere else feels more like their home. The Pineywoods have a dense mix of forest and diverse vegetation, making perfect hiding spots for white-tailed deer. And, surprise surprise! Even in the Coastal Prairies, you’ll find those sneaky white-tailed deer. Of course, don’t take my word for it. A quick look at the maps from the Texas Wildlife Department will give you the most accurate current zones for each county.

Looking for Mule Deer specifically? Read more here:

Best Mule Deer Hunting States

Which Species of Deer can be Found in Each Zone? Mule deer.

What Are the Different Seasons for Hunting Deer in Texas?

Deer hunting season in Texas isn’t just one season; instead, it contains multiple periods suitable for every kind of hunter. During the Regular Season, North Zone’s hunting dates run from Nov. 4, 2023 to Jan. 7, 2024, while South Zone stretches a little longer from Nov. 4, 2023 to Jan. 21, 2024. Want an extra crack at bagging that buck? The Special Late Season kicks in, with North Zone starting from Jan. 8 to 21, 2024 and South Zone from Jan. 22, to Feb. 4, 2024.

For you young whipper-snappers out there, the dedicated Youth-Only Season runs Oct. 28-29, 2023 & Jan. 8-21, 2024, regardless of zone.

Bowhunters – we didn’t forget you. The Archery Season is open in 252 of Texas’s 254 counties from Sep. 30, 2023 to Nov. 3, 2023. If you’re one for an old-school adventure, the Muzzleloader Season in 90 counties runs from Jan. 8-21, 2024. 

What are the Regulations for Taking Bucks in Each Zone?

If you’ve set your sights on snagging a buck this deer season, you’ve got to know the rules of the game. First off, understand that there’s an annual bag limit of five white-tailed deer per person, but don’t get greedy; no more than three of these can be bucks. Keep in mind, that’s the Legal Bucks rule. 

Read more info about Deer Hunting Laws in Texas here.

Now, let’s talk about Antler Restrictions. If a buck violates these restrictions, having branched antlers on both its main beams, you can’t take it down in that county during the hunting season. Also, remember that not every county is a free-for-all; 252 out of 254 counties have specific white-tailed deer seasons, each with their own set bag limits, and possible antler restrictions. 

And don’t forget about Mandatory Harvest Reporting. You don’t want to unwittingly cross any lines; the authorities demand that all white-tailed deer are reported promptly. 

Want to get a leg up on the deer? Read our guide on how to build a deer stand and elevate your hunting game.

Deer stand

Are there Any Special Regulations or Restrictions on Antlerless Deer During this Time Period?

Alright, folks, let’s clear a bit of confusion first. In hunting lingo, a deer is considered a buck if it has an antler growth in velvet greater than one inch or an antler poking through the skin. Anything else is classed as an antlerless deer, and you’d be surprised, but these can actually include both males and females! Now, on to the special rules around these creatures.

Some counties can be a bit picky about their buck bag. For instance, in areas having the Antler Restriction Regulation, you can bag a maximum of two legal bucks. Though, you need to remember, only one of those can have 2 branched antlers and an inside spread of 13 inches or more.

You should also note that during the so-called Special Late Season, hunting is mostly reserved for antlerless and unbranched antlered deer—bucks with no more than a single point on one or both antlers.

Lastly, don’t forget about those Antlerless Deer Days and the need for Antlerless Tags during certain periods. Knowing your regulations can make all the difference between a successful hunt and heading home empty-handed.

Licenses, Permits, and Education Required for Hunting Deer in Texas

So you’ve got your gear ready and your hunting boots laced. Before you head off into the Texas wilderness, let’s make sure you’ve got all your legal ducks in a row. We’re talking about hunting licenses, permits, and the necessary education. Remember, shooting a deer without the proper papers can land you in hotter water than a Texas summer day. So let’s dig into the details of hunting licenses, the requirements, license purchase history, digital licenses, and the permits needed for hunting deer. 

Types of Hunting Licenses in Texas

Spending a clear, crisp day outdoors hunting in Texas is an experience that varies based on what license you’re holding. For residents of Texas, you can get yourself a regular ‘Resident Hunting License’ that allows you to hunt various game animals including our favorite—deer. But don’t worry if you’re not a native Texan, folks from out of state can snag a ‘Non-Resident Hunting License’ to join in the fun. 

For the more seasoned hunters of 65 years or older, a ‘Senior Resident Hunting License’ is up for grabs at a discounted price. We’ve also got the young hunters covered with a ‘Youth Hunting License’. It’s designed for aspiring hunters between the ages of 9 and 16. Now, if you’re serious about hunting, you might want to consider an all-inclusive ‘Super Combo License’ or even a ‘Lifetime Hunting License’. We also have special accommodations for those with certain disabilities—’Special Resident Hunting License’, and for those who have served or are serving in the military.

How to Obtain a Hunting License

Obtaining a hunting license involves more than just laying your money down. Step one is to check license availability—some licenses, like the Non-resident Spring Turkey License, become available after certain dates (in this case, Feb 1). Next, you need to verify the specific requirements for your desired hunting activities—you don’t want to get excited for archery hunting, only to discover you need an archery endorsement. Make sure you choose the correct license type, such as a Resident Trapper’s License or a Non-resident General Hunting License.

You should also check the license’s validity, keep in mind that most licenses go on sale August 15 and are valid until the following August 31.

Finally, consider the exceptions—under certain circumstances, such as hunting coyotes attacking livestock, you might not need a license. For those keen on going digital, there’s also a Digital License Option.

Permits Needed for Hunting Deer

If you’re out here wanting to hunt the big bucks or just the humble doe, you’re gonna need the right permits. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) offers two specific permits for those looking to explore the wilds and get in on the hunt:

  • Annual Public Hunting (APH) Permit. For $48, this permit gives folks the full run of the range, letting you hunt, fish, camp, hike, and more on properties owned or leased by the TPWD.
  • Limited Public Use (LPU) Permit. For those of you more interested in hooking a bass than bagging a buck, the $12 LPU permit offers everything except hunting.

Remember, gents, to get that Annual Public Hunting Permit you need a season Hunting license. 

Education Required to Hunt in Texas

If you’re planning to get knee-deep in that Texas mud to hunt some deer, you’ll need to educate yourself first, partner. No, we’re not talking about pulling an all-nighter with a biology textbook. Just grasp some essential points like firearm training or knowing your way around lawful archery equipment. Texas offers diverse hunter education course options.

We got the usual classroom setup for our traditional fellas, but we also have the internet + field option and the online-only for our tech-savvy hunters. Age-wise, anyone who’s turned 9 can certify. If you’re 17 or older though, you’re eligible for the online-only course—no need to take any additional classroom instruction.

You can learn more by reading our guide: Texas Hunter Education Requirements

Want to bring your side piece? Here’s a common question and our answer: Can You Carry a Pistol While Hunting in Texas?

What are the Costs Involved in Getting a Hunting License?

For the 2022-23 license year, here’s the rough outline of expenses you’ll have to cover. First, if you’re a resident of our great state of Texas, expect to shell out around $25. For our out-of-staters, it’s a bit steeper at $315, but remember, you’re investing in some quality hunting time. Our youngsters and senior folks get a common deal—you’re only looking at $7. These licenses are valid until August 31.

Also, there’s a neat Digital License Option available if y’all are more into tech stuff. With your Digital License, you’ll have easy access to your license purchase history at all times.

Hunting Leases in Texas: A Vital Part of the Hunting Experience

You’ve got your gear sorted out, your aim is on point, but where do you go to hunt? The answer lies in securing a hunting lease. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department leases private lands for public deer hunts, bridging the gap between landowners and hunters. Here, interested landowners get in touch with TPWD or local wildlife biologists, and hunters apply to be a part of this, getting selected from public hunt drawings. The landowners get their due post-hunt, with payments based on the number of hunter positions provided. But remember, this isn’t a free-for-all.

Living up to the terms of the hunting lease, understanding the rules, complying with regulations, and knowing the cost of your hunting lease—it all falls on the landowner. They’re also responsible for ensuring everyone’s safety during the hunt. 

Looking for a lease? Check out these Texas Hunting Leases!

Understanding Hunting Leases: The Basics

If you’re new to the world of hunting, you might be scratching your head at the term ‘hunting lease’. Landowners in Texas lease their land for public white-tailed deer hunts. Remember, you’ve gotta be selected by the Department through drawings. Once you’re chosen, you shell out a hunt permit fee and then it’s game on, my friend. To keep everything in check, landowners or their agents administer the hunt, and monitor the check-in/out of hunters. Watch out for regulations. There can be a bunch! There are Applicable Regulations, Exact Regulations, County Regulations, and Destination Regulations. That makes sure you don’t run into any Additional Regulations that could sour your hunting plans. Phew!

Your best bet is going to be to ask the landowner or the TPWD for advice if you don’t want to spend a week reading all the regulations. You can also check out our blog:

Hunting Lease Agreement

How to Find and Secure a Hunting Lease in Texas

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has you sorted with public hunt drawings. Here’s what you gotta do for your ticket to huntin’ heaven:

  1. Apply through the Department’s public hunt drawings.
  2. Keep an eye open for a selection notification from the Department.
  3. Slap down your hunt permit fee.
  4. Score your Special Permit and hunt details from our good folks at the Wildlife Department.
  5. Stick to the time and place penciled in for the hunt.

Remember, Central Texas ain’t the Wild West—you gotta obey rules and regulations during the hunt. For any queries about leasing, reach out to TPWD’s Public Hunting Program.

Want more help? Read our blog post about How to Find a Deer Lease in Texas.

Cost and Terms: Deciphering Common Lease Agreements

If you’re looking to secure a hunting lease, it’s imperative to understand lease agreements. Usually, the costs could range from several dollars per acre per day to hundreds of dollars per day depending on the property. Now, it’s vital to note that the length of the lease varies by the property. Typically, it’s the landowner who takes on the responsibility of administering the hunt. 

Deciphering lease agreements can appear daunting initially, but grasping these common lease agreements becomes second nature with just a bit of time and patience. Now get out there, and secure your spot in the great Texas outdoors.

We’ve written an entire guide about costs. Check out How Much is a Hunting Lease per Acre for more info.


What Species of Deer can be Found in Each Zone?

In Texas, hunters can encounter two primary species of deer: the white-tailed deer and the mule deer. White-tailed deer are prevalent throughout Texas, while mule deer are predominantly found in the western regions of the state.

In Texas, legal shooting hours for deer hunting are from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. It is imperative to adhere strictly to these legal shooting hours to maintain ethical hunting practices and comply with state laws.

Can I use a Crossbow for Deer Hunting in Texas?

Yes, crossbows are permitted for deer hunting in Texas. They can be used during the Archery Only season and the general hunting season, offering flexibility for both novice and experienced hunters.

Can Non-residents Hunt Deer in Texas?

Yes, non-residents are allowed to hunt deer in Texas, provided they obtain a non-resident hunting license. They must also adhere to the same hunting regulations and bag limits as Texas residents to ensure fairness and compliance.

What are the Penalties for Violating Deer Hunting Regulations in Texas?

Violating deer hunting regulations in Texas can lead to severe consequences, including substantial fines, potential incarceration, and the revocation of hunting privileges. Additionally, any hunting equipment used may be confiscated. Strict adherence to hunting regulations is essential for lawful and responsible hunting.

Do I need Hunter Education in Texas?

Individuals born on or after September 2, 1971, are required to complete a hunter education course in Texas. This course can be completed either online or in person and is designed to instill responsible and safe hunting practices.


Don’t forget, staying true to the hunter’s code, keeping within the law, and respecting the land is the hallmark of any seasoned hunter. Texas, with its rich hunting culture and diverse landscapes, is a haven for those who walk the path of the hunter, be they local or from lands afar. So, with all said and done, gear up, get out there, and may your aim be true.

Joshua Cordray
I'm Josh. I love getting outdoors, hiking, camping, and enjoying the beauty of this beautiful earth. I'm also passionate about writing, and love creating stories, guides, and helpful articles about everything to do with being an outdoorsman.