Before your hunting trip to Big Thicket National Preserve, read all hunting regulations. Hunters are responsible for knowing where they may and may not hunt. State of Texas hunting regulations apply except where the following Big Thicket National Preserve regulations are more restrictive (Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations).
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 2023–24 Hunting Season
White-tailed deer and feral hogs may now be taken using straight-wall centerfire rifle cartridges of any caliber during appropriate seasons.
Axis deer have not recently been detected in Big Thicket hunting areas, but if encountered, may be hunted following the same rules and regulations for feral hogs and reported in the "Notes" section of your hunter harvest report card.
Hunter harvest report cards may be submitted via email by scanning or taking a clear picture of your card and sending it to email@example.com.
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)]
Hunting Seasons –The Big Thicket hunting season occurs October 1 to February 29. Seasons for each game species listed above that fall within those dates follow the state of Texas hunting regulations. The Big Thicket special hog season occurs January 1 to February 29 (see below). [36 CFR 1.6(g)(2); 36 CFR 1.6(h); 36 CFR 7.85(a)(1)]
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, pipelines and powerlines (except for those with a disabled hunter special-use permit), 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)]
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; straight-walled cartridges of any caliber 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)]
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); 36 CFR 1.6(h)]
Reporting –Hunters must return their completed Hunter Harvest Report by April 1. Failure to to return Hunter Harvest Reports or committal of other violations may result in refusal of permit the following year.
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 1.6(h)]
Alcohol – Possession or consumption of an alcoholic beverage in an area open to hunting is prohibited. [36 CFR 2.35(a)(3)(i)]
Baiting – Feeding or baiting is prohibited. [36 CFR 2.1(a)(2); 36 CFR 2.2(a)(2)]
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)]
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)]
Deer Stands and Game Cameras – Construction or use of permanent stands, blinds, or other structures is prohibited. The preserve will confiscate unmarked or unattended personal property, except game cameras, which are allowed. [36 CFR 7.85(a)(4); 36 CFR 5.7; 36 CFR 1.6(g)(2); 36 CFR 1.6(h)]
Trail Marking – Flagging or any other method of marking is prohibited. [36 CFR 1.6(g)(2); 36 CFR 1.6(h)]
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)]
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)]
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)]
Campfires – Ground fires are prohibited while hunting. Portable cooking stoves are permitted. [36 CFR 2.13(a)(1)]
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
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)]
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)]
Hunting Hours – Hunting hours occur 30 minutes before sunrise until 12:00 noon. [36 CFR 1.6(g)(2); 36 CFR 1.6(h)]
Big Thicket hunting permits must be renewed annually. Hunters must be present in-person and provide a Texas hunting license and state-issued driver's license or state ID to receive a hunting permit. To receive another hunting permit, you must return your Hunter Harvest Report card by April 1 following the end of hunting season.