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LAWS PROMOTE SAFE HUNTING IN THE BRAZOS RIVER BASIN

As the fall days grow shorter and the air gets a chill, for many a Texan it’s time to put on a hunting jacket, grab some gear and head out to try their luck bagging a goose, duck or other waterfowl.

Hunting season is upon us again, and the rivers and lakes of the Brazos River basin offer numerous opportunities to participate in this annual tradition. But before you head out, you should familiarize yourself with state laws and local regulations on waterfowl hunting. These regulations were created to protect not only hunters but also those who live nearby – whether on the river or a Brazos River Authority lake.

Here is a primer on some of the things you need to know to stay safe and legal when you hunt.


On the river

You can find countless great hunting spots along the Brazos and its tributaries. 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.

While hunting is generally allowed in Texas riverbeds, it may be prohibited in some areas by local ordinances or statutes. It is best to check with local or county governments to see if there are any restrictions. It might be helpful to check with the local game warden to learn if it is lawful to hunt in a specific area. You can find your local game warden by clicking here.

However, hunting in a riverbed brings added challenges and safety issues compared to other areas. 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.

Also, in an effort to protect our rivers’ natural beauty, the state does not allow people to drive motorized vehicles in riverbeds.


At the lake

Like the rivers, the lakes in the BRA 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.

Each August, the BRA holds drawings to lease waterfowl blind locations on Possum Kingdom, Granbury, and Limestone lakes. About 50 locations are designated for hunting blinds in areas that are less populated. Hunting on the lake and BRA lands is only allowed in these areas, to ensure the safety of other lake visitors and residents.

While no more blind locations are available at Granbury or Limestone, several remain available at Possum Kingdom. For more information, call the lake office at (940) 779-2321.

Hunting is also not allowed on any other BRA property, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) buffer zone separating recently purchased property from Possum Kingdom Lake. People are also not allowed to shoot from private property onto the lake, BRA property or other private property without the owner’s permission.


General

In an effort to ensure the safety of young hunters, Texas law says those born on or after Sept. 2, 1971 must be accompanied by an adult or complete a state Hunter Education Training Course. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), between 1988 when this requirement went into effect and 2011, the number of hunting accidents dropped from 5.9 per 100,000 licensed hunters to 2 per 100,000. Young hunters should have their certificates ready to present to a game warden or other officer if requested during a hunt.

Another state law crafted with safety in mind holds that anyone hunting on public state lands wear “daylight florescent orange” on at least the chest and back and as part of headwear. This is designed to help hunters more easily avoid confusing a person in often overgrown hunting areas with a potential target animal.

With a little preparation and knowledge of hunting laws and regulations, we can help make this a safe hunting season for everyone. To learn more about Texas hunting laws, including licensing, hunting season dates and bag limits, please go to the TPWD website, here. You can click here to read about laws governing activity in Texas rivers. And, for BRA lake regulations, please click here.