February 4, 2024

Hunting the Sam Houston National Forest - 1998 thru 2024

A mere 45 minutes north of the Houston, Texas city limits is the green expanse of Sam Houston National Forest (SHNF). This 162,984 acre forest of southern pine, hardwoods, and shallow creeks gives local hunters an excellent habitat for hunting recreation. The forest supports a rich and diverse wildlife population, including many protected species. Since the Fall of 1998 I've spent many days in the SHNF hunting white-tailed deer, feral hogs, and eastern gray squirrels. Texas residents who possess a valid Hunting License and Annual Public Hunting Permit can hunt legal game throughout the SHNF. The Texas Public Lands Hunting Program provides hunters with access to nearly 1,000,000 acres of land.

Jan 2024 - Now that Deer Season is over in the SHNF, let the Hog Hunting begin!

Feral Hogs can be hunted year-round (no bag limit), using all legal firearms, air guns, arrow guns and archery equipment may be used.



IT'S ABOUT RECREATION - If you use the SHNF you will eventually come across other people who are in the forest doing what they enjoy - Birdwatchers, Hikers & Backpackers, Horseback Riders, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and Families out having a day together in the woods.  The SHNF is a multi-use Federal property and so you will never know who you might encounter in the forest.  A hunter, carrying a rifle, shotgun and/or pistol, can be a startling sight for some people.  They might even be fearful of you and consider you to be a threat. YOU REPRESENT ALL HUNTERS when you come across other folks in the forest, so always be calm, respectful, and polite. Smile and say "hello", ask if they need any help or assistance. Go out of your way to help them if they need assistance and leave a good impression.

HUNTING LICENSE & APHP - You must possess a State of Texas Hunting License and Annual Public Hunting Permit to hunt in the National Forest locations in Texas. The water-resistant license document also displays information regarding the tags and permits that you purchased when purchasing your annual hunting license. Upon purchase of the annual public hunting permit you will receive a Map Booklet from the TPWD which contains maps and information regarding each Public Hunting site in the State of Texas. The cost of the Annual Public Hunting Permit is $48.

THE RULES for hunting the SHNF -
1 - You must possess a valid Texas Hunting License.
2 - Your license must include a Annual Public Hunting Permit.
3 - Obey the 10 Rules of Gun Safety and be considerate of others.
4 - Review and know the hunting schedules for your county and game.
5 - You must wear Hunter Orange (400 sq. inches minimum); including 144 sq. inches on both your front & back. You must wear Hunter Orange headgear.
6 - Do not hunt deer or feral hogs with with hunting dogs in the SHNF WMA.
7 - Be Prepared - carry a map, compass, knife, water and a mobile phone.
8 - Do not start a fire or litter in the SHNF. Do not damage trees in the SHNF.
9 - All-terrain, motorized vehicles are not authorized in most areas of the SHNF.
10 - Do not shoot on, or across, a National Forest System road; or discharge a weapon within 150 yards of a campsite, building, residence, recreation site, or any occupied area. Do not possess buckshot in a Wildlife Management Area (WMA)

REMEMBER - You are forbidden by Federal law to have a loaded weapon in, or on, your vehicle while on a US Forest Service road in the National Forest. This applies to rifles, shotguns, and pistols. Important - Do not place a loaded firearm in, or on, your vehicle while traveling or parked on a US Forest Service road or you will subject to receiving a citation for road hunting, a serious offense. The only exception is for a concealed pistol or revolver possessed by a holder of a current and valid State of Texas-issued License to Carry Handgun permit. Federal agents and State of Texas Game Wardens strictly enforce this law in the Sam Houston National Forest.  The simple way for hunters to comply with this law is to load, and unload, your hunting firearm in the forest, away from a US Forest Service road.  

REMEMBER - You are required by law to wear an orange vest and orange hat while hunting in the Sam Houston National Forest.  For your safety, make sure you obey this important safety-related regulation and wear your hunters orange. 

IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS - 24 Hour Phone Number for Game Warden Office (281)842-8100.  Operation Game Thief (800)792-GAME.    

LAW ENFORCEMENT - You will very likely encounter a TPWD Game Warden or US Forest Service Agent if you hunt the SHNF.  They are some of the finest and hardest working public servants in the State of Texas. Game Wardens and Agents are on patrol enforcing Texas game laws and Federal laws regarding the use of the National Forest.  You will likely encounter a Game Warden when you've completed your hunt and arrive back at your parked vehicle.  Be prepared to present your Drivers License or State-issued ID, Hunting License and Annual Public Hunting Permit.

SUGGESTION - Make it a habit to tell a family member or friend what vehicle you will be driving to the SHNF, where you plan to park your vehicle, where you plan to hunt and when you will return.

ANTI-HUNTING ACTIVISTS - There are people who disagree with hunting and have been known to harass hunters in the field.  If you are confronted by anti-hunting activists, remain calm.  Politely remind them that you are engaging in a lawful activity that is licensed in the State of Texas.  Tell them that you respect their right to use the forest and just move on with your hunt.  DO NOT verbally abuse, intimidate, threaten, or assault an anti-hunting activist. After moving away, while the event is fresh on your mind, record a physical description of the anti-hunting activists.  Record the time, date, location, and details of the encounter.  If they assault you or attempt to stop you from hunting, call 911 and request a response by a Texas Game Warden, US Forest Service Officer, and Deputy Sheriff.  An accurate record of the encounter is very important to law enforcement officials.

September 7, 2020

2020 Pre Season Scouting Trips - Sam Houston National Forest

Its September 2020 and its time to be in the Sam Houston National Forest checking out your favorite hunting locations and confirming the presence of ground scrapes and other key signs for White-tailed bucks and does. My first trip of the year was on Labor Day (and yes, I'm behind schedule) and the condition of the forest is favorable. Sufficient rains this year will ensure a good crop of green vegetation browse and a normal crop of acorns. My game cameras are up and watching.

August 5, 2019

2018 and 2019 Hunters Extravaganza - Houston, Texas

The Texas Trophy Hunters Association sponsors the annual Hunter's Extravaganza, the largest hunting show in the State of Texas. It occurs each year in Houston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and San Antonio during August. The TTHA White-Tailed Buck contest is the most famous in Texas. I attend the Houston event each year and always enjoy visiting the various booths and attending educational seminars.