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Texas Deer Management | Deer Population Management

Texas Deer Management | The Managed Lands Deer Permit (MLDP)

By: Justin Bryan

As the popularity of recreational properties, especially hunting properties, has increased so has the desire by these landowners to create ideal wildlife habitat. As a result of these positive actions, wildlife populations such as white-tailed deer thrive and often times begin to exceed the carrying capacity of the native habitat.  When this occurs, both the quality of the habitat and the wildlife that use that habitat, typically begin to decline leading to the use of Texas deer management programs.

In an effort to deal with a common situation such as this, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TWPWD) created the Managed Lands Deer Permit (MLDP). This program allows landowners and Texas deer management program supervisors to intensively manage, via permits, modern firearms and long harvest seasons, white-tailed deer populations on acreage with dense populations (deer/acre) so that landowners can maintain the integrity of the habitat and the wildlife that use it. To date this has been a very successful and widely used program by landowners dealing with Texas deer management.

The MLD program is based on the landowner’s wildlife management plan, habitat management practices, annual deer population surveys, harvest recommendations, harvest data collection, and annual reports. This information is used by TPWD to support the need for additional harvest permits for both does and bucks. By fulfilling the data requirements, a landowner can apply to TPWD for MLD permits that allow the landowner an extended hunting season to harvest excess white-tailed deer. Example, it is not uncommon on properties with high deer populations to need to harvest 50-70 does and 40-60 bucks annually to maintain a healthy habitat and deer population. On properties with high deer numbers, harvest rates obviously increase. Working with the MLD program a landowner can successfully balance the health of the white-tailed deer herd with the habitat that is available to support that deer population.

MLDP Level III: Harvest of Any Antlerless and Any Buck Deer

  • Benefits:
    • County and statewide bag limits do not apply to individual hunters.
    • Oct. 1, 2016 – Feb. 28, 2017:
      • Allows harvest of antlerless and any buck deer with any lawful means.
      • (Normal rifle season is ~ Nov. 7 – Jan. 3).
      • Exact season dates can change from year to year
    • Once permits have been issued, archery stamp requirements do not apply.
  • Requirements:
    • The approved WMP must include deer population data from the current year and the preceding 2 years, complete deer harvest data (including age, weight, and antler data as described in the general information section) from the preceding 2 years, and must identify at least 4 recommended habitat management practices that are being conducted or will be conducted on the property.
    • Once permits have been issued, every deer (buck and antlerless) harvested on the property must be tagged with an appropriate Level 3 MLDP (no MLDP is required for deer taken on the property under the authority of an Antlerless and Spike Deer Control Permit).
    • The landowner must accomplish at least 4 habitat management practices specified in the WMP within three years of initial permit issuance. The habitat management practices and harvest management must maintain the habitat in a stable or improving condition. On-site evaluations will be conducted by TPWD to assess progress.

MLDP Level II: Harvest of Any Antlerless and Early Spike Harvest

  • Benefits:
    • County and statewide bag limits (including special antler restrictions) do not apply to individual hunters.
    • 1, 2016 – Feb. 28, 2017
    • Allows harvest of antlerless deer with any lawful means, including modern firearms.
      • (Normal rifle season is ~ Nov. 7 – Jan. 3).
      • Exact season dates can change from year to year
    • County and statewide bag limits (including special antler restrictions) do not apply to individual hunters.
    • 1, 2016 – Nov. 4, 2016
      • Spike bucks may be taken with any lawful means, including modern firearms.
      • Any other buck deer may be taken with lawful archery equipment.
    • 5, 2016 – Feb. 28, 2017
      • Any buck deer may be taken by any lawful means.
    • 29 – Oct. 30
      • Early youth-only season. A youth hunter may take a deer by any lawful means, including modern firearm.
    • Once permits have been issued, archery stamp requirements do not apply.
  • Requirements:
    • The approved WMP must include deer population data from the current year and the preceding year, complete deer harvest data (including age, weight, and antler data as described in the general information section) from the preceding year, and must identify at least 2 recommended habitat management practices that are being conducted or will be conducted on the property.
    • Once permits have been issued, every deer (buck and antlerless) harvested on the property must be tagged with an appropriate Level 2 MLDP (no MLDP is required for deer taken on the property under the authority of an Antlerless and Spike Deer Control Permit).
    • The landowner must accomplish at least 2 habitat management practices specified in the WMP within three years of initial permit issuance. The habitat management practices and harvest management must maintain the habitat in a stable or improving condition. On-site evaluations will be conducted by TPWD to assess progress.

MLDP Level I: Harvest of Antlerless Only

  • Benefits:
    • Offers liberalized antlerless harvest opportunity for landowners in counties with restrictive antlerless harvest regulations. Most requests for Level I MLDPs are in areas where county regulations restrict antlerless harvest during all or part of the general season. No buck permits are issued under Level I.
    • Only MLD permits are used to “tag” harvested does. Since bucks are not included under Level 1, all bucks harvested on the property must be tagged with an appropriate hunting license tag and recorded on the hunting license log.
    • Allows the harvest of antlerless deer as outlined in the WMP during any open season in the county, subject to applicable season legal means and methods.
  • Requirements:
    • The approved management plan must include current deer population data.
    • Once MLDPs have been issued, all antlerless deer harvested must be tagged with only a Level 1 MLDP, including deer taken during an archery-only season, muzzleloader-only season, or special youth-only season (no MLDP is required for deer taken on the property under the authority of an Antlerless and Spike Deer Control Permit)
    • If there are doe-days in the county, MLDPs must be used during doe-days on properties where they have been issued.
    • Level 1 MLDP cooperators are required to conduct sound deer population management through the harvest of an appropriate number of antlerless deer, and report the number of bucks and does harvested while enrolled in the MLDP program.

For more information visit Texas Parks & Wildlife

 

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