With the fall comes opening day of several popular hunting seasons across the state. For Texas landowners, this often means entering into hunting lease agreements that generate added income for the operation. Under Texas law, a landowner leasing private property for hunting in return for any type of compensation is required to obtain a Hunting Lease License from Texas Parks and Wildlife (“TPW”). Note, this is separate from a hunting license that the hunter must possess.
Under TPW rules, a private landowner or the landowner’s agent may not receive any consideration from a hunter unless the landowner has obtained a Hunting Lease License from TPW. There are three types of licenses for landowners to choose from: (1) Hunting Lease License; (2) Hunting Cooperative Lease License; and (3) Wildlife Management Association Area Hunting Lease License.
- Hunting Lease License: This is the license for an individual landowner. Cost for less than $500 acres is $79, from 500-1000 acres is $147, and for landowners with 1000 acres or more, the cost is $252. This license may be obtained anywhere a hunting/fishing license is sold or may be obtained online.
- Hunting Cooperative Lease License: If a group of landowners wishes to get together and form a hunting cooperative, they must have a written agreement including their names and the total number of acres owned by each landowner. This document is to be attached to the hunting cooperative lease license application. For small cooperatives (less than 10,000 acres), the fee is $60 plus $5 per participating landowner. For medium sized cooperatives (between 10,000 and 50,000 acres) the cost is $120 plus $5 per participating landowner. For large cooperatives (over 50,000 acres), the cost is $240 plus $5 per acre. This license must be obtained at a Texas Parks and Wildlife office.
- Wildlife Management Association Area Hunting License: In order to obtain this license, two or more tracts of land that are contiguous or proximate to one another have to be designated as a wildlife management association by the TPW. To grant this designation, TPW will determine that the land is inhabited by wildlife and that observing the wildlife and collecting information will serve the purpose of wildlife management. A landowner must agree that he or she will release infomation about the wildlife to the department. Fees for small acreages (less than 10,000 acres) are $38 plus $6 per participating landowner. For medium (10,000 to 50,000 acres) fees are $76 plus $6 per participating landowner. For large associations (over 50,000 acres), fees are $152 plus $6 per participating landowner.
For landowners who own properties in different counties, if the properties are non-contiguous, separate licenses must be obtained. If, however, the property is contiguous, only one license is required.
Licenses must be “displayed on the hunting lease.” This can be done a number of ways, including giving a copy of hunters to carry with them, the landowner keeping a copy to produce on request, posting on a fence post, gate, or leaving a copy at a bunkhouse or lodge. So long as the license can be produced upon request of the Game Warden, this requirement is met.
According to a couple Game Wardens I have visited with, this rule has been on the books for years, but has often not been strictly enforced. However, game wardens across the state have been reminded of this rule and will likely be checking to determine if landowner lease licenses have properly been obtained this fall. Penalties for failing to comply with this requirement can include a Class C misdemeanor conviction and up to a $500 fine.
For more information, click here or contact your local game warden. The statutory language providing for this requirement may be found in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code Section 43.041 – 43.055.