Hunting Regulations


Before your hunting trip to Big Thicket National Preserve, read these regulations and study the map of the preserve unit provided with your permit. Know the areas where you may hunt, and the areas where you may not hunt. State of Texas hunting season dates and regulations apply except where the following Big Thicket National Preserve regulations are more restrictive (Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations).

  • Violations of state law, federal law, and/or these regulations may result in the loss of your hunting permit for the current hunting season, a fine, and/or the suspension or permanent loss of your hunting privileges. [36 CFR 1.6(h)]
  • Notice: Title 18 U.S.C. Section 1001 makes it a crime for any person to knowingly and willfully make to any department or agency of the United States any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or representations as to any matter within its jurisdiction.

Before you leave on your hunting trip, please inform a relative or friend of your intended point of entry, route of travel, and time of return. While hunting, dress appropriately for changing weather conditions and carry a flashlight, compass, first aid kit, maps, water, and cell phone. Do not cross or park on private property without the consent of the landowner.


Updates for 2022–23 Hunting Season

  • Hunting seasons have changed; Big Thicket's hunting season will now begin October 1 and end February 28 of each year. (Species-specific seasons still apply.)
  • White-tailed deer and feral hogs may now be taken using straight-wall centerfire rifle cartridges from a select list of calibers (see regulations for details) during appropriate seasons.

Big Thicket Hunting Regulations

Refer to Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations (36 CFR), Chapter 1, for each hunting regulation's corresponding CFR reference(s).

  1. Huntable Game Only the following game are permissible to hunt with a Big Thicket hunting permit: white-tailed deer, squirrel, rabbit, feral hog, and waterfowl. [36 CFR 7.85(a)(2)(i); 36 CFR 7.85(a)(2)(ii)]
  2. Hunting Seasons The Big Thicket hunting season occurs October 1 to February 28. Seasons for each game species within those dates follow the state of Texas hunting regulations. The Big Thicket special hog season occurs January 1 to February 28 (see below). [36 CFR 1.6(g)(2); 36 CFR 1.6(h); 36 CFR 7.85(a)(1)]
  3. Hunting Locations and Hours Hunting is restricted to the designated hunting area on your permit. Hunting is not allowed within 500 feet of hiking trails, roads, residences, or navigable waterways including the Neches River and Pine Island Bayou except in the Lake Bayou Hunting Area (see below). Hunting hours occur 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset except in the Lake Bayou Hunting Area. [36 CFR 1.6(g)(2); 36 CFR 1.6(h)]
  4. Hunting Means Only the following means are allowed, in accordance with state of Texas seasons and regulations: archery, shotgun, muzzle-loading rifle, air gun/air rifle, air bow/bow gun, and rifle. ONLY the following rifle calibers are allowed: .17 and .22 for squirrel, rabbit, and hog; .350, .444, .450, .45-70, and .375 straight-walled cartridges for white-tailed deer and hog. Hunters may not use or be in possession of lead-containing shot while waterfowl hunting. For all other game, the use of non-lead ammunition is encouraged. [36 CFR 1.6(g)(2); 36 CFR 1.6(h); 36 CFR 7.85(d)(1)]
  5. Documentation While hunting, you must be in possession of a current Big Thicket hunting permit, a state of Texas hunting license, and any other appropriate state or federal stamps or documents. The top portion of the Hunter Parking/Boat Pass must be placed on your vehicle mirror, dashboard, or driver's seat of a boat so the permit number is visible. [36 CFR 1.6(g)(2); 36 CFR 7.85(c)]
  6. Reporting Hunters must return their completed Hunter Harvest Report by April 1 to receive a hunting permit the following year.
  7. Special Hog Season – During the Big Thicket special hog season, hunters are permitted to take feral hogs from any of the preserve's designated hunting areas except in the Lake Bayou Hunting Area. Take of all other game remains restricted to the unit on your permit. [36 CFR 7.85(2)(d)(1); 36 CFR 1.6(g)(2); 36 CFR 1.69(h)]
  8. Alcohol – Possession or consumption of an alcoholic beverage in an area open to hunting is prohibited. [36 CFR 2.35(a)(3)(i)]
  9. Baiting – Feeding or baiting is prohibited. [36 CFR 2.1(a)(2); 36 CFR 2.2(a)(2)]
  10. Dogs – The use or possession of dogs while hunting is prohibited, except for the use of retrievers for retrieving waterfowl. [36 CFR 7.85(a)(3); 36 CFR 7.85(a)(4)]
  11. Hunter Orange – Hunter orange or international orange must be worn while hunting. Hunters must wear a minimum of 400 square inches of hunter orange or international orange, including a hat. [36 CFR 1.6(g)(2); 36 CFR 1.6(h); 36 CFR 7.85(a)(4)]
  12. Deer Stands – Construction or use of permanent stands, blinds, or other structures is prohibited. The preserve will confiscate unmarked or unattended deer stands. [36 CFR 7.85(a)(4); 36 CFR 5.7; 36 CFR 1.6(g)(2); 36 CFR 1.6(h)]
  13. Trail Marking – Flagging or any other method of marking is prohibited. [36 CFR 1.6(g)(2); 36 CFR 1.6(h)]
  14. Vegetation Cutting – Cutting and/or removal of vegetation for the creation of shooting lanes, hunting blinds, or for any other reason are prohibited. Machetes, axes, saws, or other types of cutting/chopping devices are prohibited. [36 CFR 2.1(a)(ii); 36 CFR 1.6(g)(2); 36 CFR 1.6(h)]
  15. Trash – Carry out all trash including empty shells and cartridges. Field dressing is allowed. Human waste must be buried at least 100 feet from any water source and not within sight of any road or trail. [36 CFR 2.14(a)(1); 36 CFR 2.14(a)(9)]
  16. Camping – Camping is prohibited in all hunting areas during the hunting season, except for sandbars along the Neches River. All camping requires a backcountry camping permit. [36 CFR 2.10(a)]
  17. Campfires – Ground fires are prohibited. Portable cooking stoves are permitted. [36 CFR 2.13(a)(1)]
  18. Vehicles and Parking – Vehicles may be parked along roads or in designated parking areas. Do not block gates or roads. Off-road use of motorized vehicles, including all-terrain vehicles (ATV/UTV) and motorcycles, is prohibited. [36 CFR 4.10(a); 36 CFR 4.13(a)]


Lake Bayou Hunting Area (Waterfowl-Only) Regulations

  1. Huntable Game – Only waterfowl may be hunted with a Big Thicket hunting permit for the Lake Bayou Hunting Area. No other game may be taken from the Lake Bayou Hunting Area, including during the Big Thicket special hog season. [36 CFR 7.85(a)(2)(ii)]
  2. Seasons and Regulations Within the Big Thicket hunting season, waterfowl seasons follow those of the state of Texas. Floating blinds are permitted but must not be left unoccupied. Retriever dogs are allowed and must always remain under the control of handlers. Use of calling devices is allowed.
    [36 CFR 1.6(g)(2); 36 CFR 1.6(h); 36 CFR 7.85(a)(1); 36 CFR 7.85(a)(4)]
  3. Hunting Hours – Hunting hours occur 30 minutes before sunrise until 12:00 noon. [36 CFR 1.6(g)(2); 36 CFR 1.6(h)]


To get a hunting permit for the following year, you must reapply during hunting registration, beginning September 1. Your "Hunter's Report" card must be returned by April 1 following the end of hunting season.

For questions about state of Texas regulations, contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

If your permit is lost or stolen, please contact the visitor center at 409-951-6700.

Remember that the preserve is not a hunting lease but is a national preserve and, as such, is used by other members of the public during hunting season. Practice courtesy and safety at all times.


Last updated: August 17, 2022

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6044 FM 420
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