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HUNTING THE BRAZOS

With the fall approaching, many Texans are gearing up for hunting season.

For generations, people from the Lone Star State have enjoyed the annual ritual, often an opportunity for parents to bond with their children as they take them out for their first hunt.

But while more experienced hunters might be familiar with laws and regulations governing hunting on Brazos River Authority lakes and the river; here are a few things newcomers will need to know.

The Brazos River

The Brazos River offers numerous opportunities to hunt along its 820 miles.

Since the river is a public stream, it belongs to all Texans and they are free to enjoy a variety of activities within its banks, including hunting. However, the Authority wishes to remind people to keep in mind some safety tips as well as state laws.

Hunting in a riverbed brings added challenges and safety issues compared to other areas. Though the drought has left parts of the Brazos a mere trickle in some places, others are navigable by boat. If you are going to use a boat as part of a hunting trip, don’t forget water safety devices when getting your gear together, says Scott Vaca, assistant chief of wildlife enforcement with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Law Enforcement Division.

“A lot of times we’ll find people get out there and for some reason they will remember to bring everything for hunting, but they will forget all of their water safety equipment” required by law, he said.

Also, motor vehicles, including wheeled and tracked vehicles are mostly prohibited in navigable Texas riverbeds, including the Brazos.

Many people live along the river banks, and hunters must be mindful of their safety when shooting. While hunting is allowed in riverbeds, state law prohibits people from firing a weapon onto or across private property without the owner’s approval.

Hunters should also be careful where they walk when hunting in the riverbed to avoid violating Texas trespassing laws by straying onto private property. Under state law, the river bed is public property up to the “gradient boundary.” Though the definition of the boundary can be confusing, it roughly means the point where more woody plants begin to grow, Vaca said.

Brazos River Authority lakes

Like the river, the lakes in the Brazos River Authority system have proven to be a popular draw for visitors seeking a little rest and relaxation on the weekend as well as the many Texans who have built homes along the lake shores.

Hunters should also keep their safety in mind as they share in the lakes’ recreational opportunities.

In late August each year, just before the hunting season, the Authority holds a drawing to lease duck blind locations on Possum Kingdom, Granbury, and Limestone lakes. Some 48 locations are designated for hunting blinds in areas that are less populated.

Hunting is not allowed on property that is not specifically designated for waterfowl blinds, target ranges, or bow hunting.

While Authority officials hope visitors enjoy all the activities at the lakes, they will enforce violations of Authority regulations and state laws.

To learn more about Texas hunting laws, including information about hunting licenses and seasons, go to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/annual. For more information contact the Public Information Office at 888-922-6272.