A mere 45 minutes north of Houston Texas is the green expanse of Sam Houston National Forest (SHNF). This 162,000 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 may hunt legal game throughout the SHNF. The Texas Public Lands Hunting Program provides hunters with access to nearly 1,000,000 acres of hunting land in Texas.
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 long 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 respectful and polite. Smile, say "hello" and ask if they need any help or assistance. Leave a good impression with anybody you encounter.
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 a Hunter Orange front & back vest and headgear.
6 - Do not hunt deer or feral hogs with a shotgun, or with hunting dogs.
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.
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 on a US Forest Service road. 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.