Mule deer antler restriction, season extension on South Plains among new hunting laws for 2022-23

Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 9:40 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved changes to hunting rules and regulations for the 2022-23 season. The mule deer season will be lengthened from nine to 16 days on the South Plains, and antler restrictions will expand to 21 more counties.

“Crosby County, for instance, had an extended season,” Lt. Aaron Sims, TPWD Game Warden, said. “All the southwestern Panhandle counties, which include Lubbock, Terry, Yoakum, Cochran, and others, will be now 16 days. That gives us additional time to harvest. That is some feedback we heard from hunters: nine days is a pretty tight timeline. Mule deer don’t act like whitetail deer. They’re hard to hunt, which makes it a fun sport. They’re hard to harvest, but if people are investing that time and that effort, they’re going to have that extra opportunity to bag a buck.”

That extended season will be for 15 southwestern Panhandle counties, while the mule deer minimum antler restriction of 20 inches will be added to the following counties: Andrews, Armstrong, Bailey, Castro, Cochran, Collingsworth, Dawson, Donley, Foard, Gaines, Hale, Hardeman, Hockley, Lamb, Lubbock, Martin, Parmer, Randall, Swisher, Terry, and Yoakum.

“The biologists tell us that 80 percent of harvests, from one-year-olds to three-year-olds, would be saved with that antler restriction,” Sims said. “Say you have a two-year-old buck, that’s a young buck, might not be at the growth potential of 20 inches. If you wait a couple of years, it will be. Then that allows for the mature harvest of bucks as opposed to the immature ones that don’t get that opportunity to breed.”

However, the antler restriction does not apply within a Chronic Wasting Disease Zone or to Managed Lands Deer Permit properties.

Texas Parks and Wildlife is also modifying the proof of sex requirements for harvested buck deer.

“We’re trying to help contain the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease but also address these concerns that hunters have when going outside of the area, including other states that surround Texas,” Sims said. “Now [proof of sex] is going to be the tail, the tail of the whitetail or the mule deer. If they don’t want to transport the head, then they can actually transport the skullcap, which includes the antlers attached to it.”

Other changes approved by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission will impact the South Plains, and others are species-specific. Sims encourages hunters to review the Outdoor Annual and download the Outdoor Annual app, updated when the new season dates are announced on May 13.

Click here to learn more about the regulation changes.

Copyright 2022 KCBD. All rights reserved.