The Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge will open approximately 12,779 acres this fall to permitted hunters for big game, as well as archery and dove hunting on smaller areas. The wildlife refuge was established in 1992 to conserve habitat for the golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo. It also maintains habitat for a number of other wildlife species, including white-tailed deer and doves, two popular game animals.
Dove season begins Tuesday, Sept. 1. Public hunts are set for the first four days of the 2020 season. The hunting hours for dove on the refuge are noon until sunset Sept. 1-4 on a 279-acre parcel of the refuge located at 405 CR 286 Spur in Williamson County, about 8 miles west of Liberty Hill.
Permits are issued on site on a first-come, first-served basis. Permits are $20 each and good for all four afternoon hunts. As many as 70 permits will be issued each day. Dove hunters may only use non-toxic shot approved for waterfowl hunting such as steel or bismuth.
This year, the refuge is also offering an E-Postcard APH archery hunt from Saturday, Oct. 3, through Friday, Nov. 6. Hunters must apply for the permit through the TPWD’s public hunting system.
Before applying, hunters must possess a valid 2020-21 hunting license and a current APH permit. Both are available through the TPWD’s website.
All selected hunters must attend a mandatory orientation at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, at the Balcones Canyonlands headquarters, 24518 RR 1431 between Marble Falls and Lago Vista. The refuge has opened 640 acres for this hunt. Hunters can use bow or crossbow only during the archery hunt. They can take up to two white-tailed deer of either sex, but with a one-buck limit. They can also take one turkey of either sex and an unlimited number of feral hogs.
The refuge participates in the TPWD’s lottery permitting system for several big game hunts and opens 12,779 acres for these three-day events. The 2020 big game hunt dates are:
- Youth Hunt — Nov. 13-15
- General Hunt 1 — Nov. 20-22
- General Hunt 2 — Dec. 4-6
- General Hunt 3 — Dec. 11-13.
Required hunt orientations will be held at refuge headquarters at noon on the Friday of each hunt weekend. Each hunt begins at 1 p.m. Friday and extends through legal shooting hours the following Sunday. Hunters with disabilities are encouraged to apply. If selected, the refuge will provide reasonable accommodations.
During these hunts, people can take the number of white-tailed deer set by TPWD for the county in which they’re hunting. The refuge is located in parts of Burnet, Williamson, and Travis counties, all off which have a limit of five deer but no more than two bucks. Hunters are also allowed to take one turkey of either sex and an unlimited number of feral hogs.
Check out the Balcones Canyonland NWR hunting page or call the refuge headquarters at 512-339-9432 for more information.