There is no closed season or state drawing for elk tags in Texas, and hunters can hunt with guns or archery equipment. One of the most significant benefits of elk hunting in Texas is the ability to rifle hunt during the peak of the rut, when the bulls are bugling. This can be extremely beneficial because unlike during other times of the year when elk are generally more wary of humans, during the rut they are less selective about where they bed down for the night and will often sleep in heavily trafficked areas such as roads or parking lots. This makes them easier to find later in the morning when it's cooler and more comfortable outside.
Elk hunting in Texas is primarily focused on trophy animals. However, since there is no open season on non-trophy animals, anyone who wants to can participate in this part of the hunt by using trail cameras or listening for bugles at known bull sites. Non-hunters can enjoy watching elk in their natural environment too - parks, forests, and wildlife preserves offer some of the best elk hunting in Texas.
Since there is no regular commercial harvest of elk in Texas, all harvested antlers must be taken to an official taxidermist to obtain a state license. Hunters are also required to tag every piece of visible antler on the animal to ensure that only one license is issued even if multiple shots were fired.
Because there is no closed season in Texas for elk hunting, they may be hunted all year, although the greatest time to shoot elk in Texas is during the rut in September and October. We travel about until we find a huge bull elk, then it's a site and we stalk from there, similar to how we hunt elk in West Texas. It's not easy finding good habitat with food sources for elk in Texas, but if you look hard enough you will find some good spots.
It is legal to hunt elk in Texas provided that you have a license and are using approved methods of taking the animal. Since there is no closed season, anyone who wants to can go out and shoot an elk. However, since most elk live in national parks and other protected areas, it's important to know the law before you go out shooting elk.
In Texas, you must be 16 years old to buy a big game license, but only 18 years old to buy a rifle license. The cost of a license depends on several factors including what zone you're in, how much land you own, and whether you're buying a general license or a special permit. Hunters who plan to visit multiple locations should buy a general license so they don't need to pay additional fees each time they want to go out hunting.
General licenses are available online at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntingsites or by phone at 903-537-3000.
Elks can be dangerous when angry or alarmed, so take care not to provoke a fight with one.
Elk are generally easy to identify because of their large size (which can reach up to 1000 pounds) and their distinctive markings. A hunter should try to stalk an elk from a distance of 100-150 yards until it calms down, after which point it is safe to shoot it. The best place to find elk in Texas is along the creeks and rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico because this is where hunters will often see signs such as scrapes in the dirt and branches broken off trees, which indicate that elk have been visiting these areas looking for food.
It is illegal to hunt elk in Texas without a license, so make sure to check with your state wildlife agency to see if licenses are available for sale in the area where you plan to go hunting. Also, remember to use caution not to cross private property when hiking or driving through rural areas, as you never know what might happen if you get too close to someone's home.
Elk may have roamed much of Texas in the past, according to historical data. Elk were only seen in the Guadalupe Mountains in far west Texas by the late 1800s, according to archives. Currently, free-roaming elk may be found over most of west Texas, as well as on high-fenced ranches across the state.
In addition to being one of only seven countries in the world where they can be found in the wild, elk also are protected animals under federal law. It is illegal to capture, kill, sell, or attempt to sell an elk in federal territory without a permit. Violators can be fined up to $5,000 and face up to six months in prison.
There are about 1,500 elk in western Texas, estimated at mid-1990s levels after decades of hunting pressure. The population is made up primarily of trophy animals that weigh over 900 pounds (410 kg). There are also several hundred smaller elk that weigh between 200 and 900 pounds (90 and 410 kg).
People have lived with elk for centuries, even though they may appear dangerous at first glance. They usually avoid humans unless provoked or scared away by loud noises, such as gun shots. If elk feel threatened, they will run away from people. However, if attacked, elk will fight back aggressively if they feel endangered.