FIELD GUIDE: Important dates, tips and information for your hunting trip

The general season for deer hunting opens Nov. 1 in most of Texas. Following are more important dates, tips and information from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department that you should know before heading out on your hunting trip.

IMPORTANT DATES

Archery only: Sept. 27-Oct. 31, 2014

Early youth-only season: Oct. 25-26, 2014

General season: Nov. 1, 2014-Jan. 4, 2015

Late youth-only season: Jan. 5-18, 2015

Take hunter education course before heading out

AUSTIN – With hunting season under way, don’t forget hunter education if you’re not yet certified.

With the option to take a hunter education course online, it’s easier than ever to get a hunter education certification.

To hunt legally in Texas, anyone born after Sept. 2, 1971, must complete a hunter education training course or purchase a one-time deferral, good for one license year. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department now offers the option to complete training courses online for Texas residents 17 and older.

The department also offers other methods of getting certified. One is the basic hunter education course, which is designed for novice and young hunters and requires six hours of classroom instruction. Another is the enhanced hunter education course, a combination of online and home study that requires up to five hours in the field. A third option is the advanced hunter education course, which requires more than six hours of instruction and includes more content than the basic and enhanced courses.

Each of the courses costs $15, and the passing grade for all courses is 75 percent.

As dove season opened this year, one of the most frequent citations game wardens issued was for hunting without hunter education certification. Since mandatory hunter education first started in 1988, the number of hunting accidents and fatalities has declined to fewer than three per 100,000 hunters. Accidents involving those who had completed hunter education courses are only in the single digits each year.

Go to www.tpwd.state.tx.us for more.

The certification is valid for life and is honored in all other states and provinces.

Tips on avoiding disease in the field

AUSTIN – With archery season for deer already under way and the rifle season in the North and South zones starting Nov. 1, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is cautioning hunters to be careful in handling the game they harvest.

It is not common, but some diseases can spread from wildlife to humans. One such disease is anthrax, which is caused by naturally occurring bacteria found in soil. Animals can come down with the disease by swallowing anthrax spores while grazing. Humans, in turn, can contract the disease through touching infected animals, either alive or dead, or consuming their meat.

Other conditions, including tularemia, brucellosis and rabies, also can be transmitted to people through direct contact with live animals or while field dressing harvested game. In addition, insects and ticks can transmit West Nile virus, Lyme disease, plague and other diseases.

Fortunately for hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts, safety methods are easy. Using insect repellent and wearing long sleeves and long pants is the simplest way to prevent illnesses that can be passed to humans by mosquitos and ticks.

Health professionals also advise wearing gloves while cleaning game or when cutting and packaging meat. And be sure to wash your hands when you are finished.

The Texas Department of State Health Services recommends the following precautions:

  • Do not harvest animals that appear ill or are acting abnormally.
  • Wear latex-type gloves when dressing game.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling game. If soap is not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a good alternative.
  • Consider eye protection when dressing game to prevent contact between fluids or tissues and eyes. Shooting glasses provide an adequate level of protection in most cases.
  • Avoid eating, drinking, using tobacco or rubbing eyes while dressing game.
  • Do not touch non-hunter-killed dead animals or their remains, including antlers, bones and hides.
  • Use an approved insect repellent and follow the instructions on the label.
  • Stay on trails and avoid areas of overgrown brush and tall grasses.
  • Wear protective clothing such as a hat, a long-sleeved shirt and long pants tucked into boots or socks, and check frequently for ticks.

Youth-only hunting weekend Oct. 25-26

AUSTIN — Youth hunters will have the chance to take the first shots of the year during the special youth-only hunting season for white-tailed deer, Rio Grande turkey and waterfowl.

During the special youth hunting weekend Oct. 25-26, hunters 16 or younger are allowed to harvest white-tailed deer and Rio Grande turkey. The youth-only waterfowl season in the North and South duck zones is for licensed youth 15 or younger.

General season bag limits for the county hunted apply during the youth-only weekend. Additional restrictions may apply in certain areas, so visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s website at www.tpwd.state.tx.us for more.

Youth who hunt on Texas Parks and Wildlife Department lands must be accompanied by a supervising adult 18 or older who possess the required Annual Public Hunting permit, a valid hunting license and any required stamps and permits.

Outdoor Annual App update available

AUSTIN — The recently released official Outdoor Annual-Texas Hunting and Fishing Regulations mobile app has been updated to include season dates and bag limits for the 2014-2015 waterfowl season as well as corrections and clarifications to deer and turkey regulations in certain counties.

The app is available for free download on iOS and Android platforms, providing sportsmen with mobile access to information they can use in the field and on the water.

Those who have already downloaded the app will need to install the update from their app store to ensure they are referencing accurate regulations and for optimized performance. For those who have not yet downloaded the free app, go to www.txoutdoorannual.com/app.

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