Skip to main content

Best Spots for Bowhunting Texas Trophy Bucks

Best Spots for Bowhunting Texas Trophy Bucks

Stereotypes can be hard to break. Especially when their existence reinforces a "victim" mentality.

So it is with hunting trophy whitetails in Texas. All you ever hear is that it's purely a rich man's game. This folds seamlessly into the old stereotype of the Lone Star land baron admiring his cattle herds and oil wells from the driver's seat of his Cadillac convertible as he puffs fat cigars lighted with $100 bills and gazes across his horizon-to-horizon spread.

This impressive Texas buck taken by A. J. Downs holds a gross score of 268 5/8 and a net of 256 4/8.

Sure, there are still some mighty big ranches in Texas. A few, such as the fabled King Ranch southwest of Corpus Christi, measure in the hundreds of thousands of acres. Whether holdovers from original Spanish land grants or assembled from "smaller" places since those early days of settlement, they're vast inland empires with a mystique spreading far beyond the state's borders. Ford doesn't just peddle its luxurious King Ranch F-150 in Texas, you know.


But the King and other large ranches scattered about the western half of the state are legendary because they're well outside the norm — even by Texas standards. The average rural landholding in this state is roughly 500 acres, and many are way smaller. The average is far less than that in the eastern half, where most of the state's 27 million people live.


As might be expected of a place roughly 750 miles wide, 750 miles deep and including over 167 million acres, Texas is like many states in one. The west is desert, some of which is quite mountainous. The Panhandle is largely wide-open plains. The eastern fourth or so is mixed pine-hardwood forest. The Gulf of Mexico is a grassy, humid coastal plain. South Texas is largely a semi-arid land of cactus and thorn-brush. And in the middle of it all are the picturesque Central Texas Hill Country and fertile blackland prairies.

best-spots-bowhunting-texas-trophy-whitetail

With the exception of far-West Texas, which is better suited to desert mule deer and pronghorn antelope, there are good numbers of whitetails in most of the state. Several million, in fact, with parts of the Hill Country featuring some of the world's highest deer densities. Many areas are target-rich bowhunting environments.

The biggest bucks in Texas tend not to come from those locations. But as the accompanying map shows, Pope & Young-class whitetails have been recorded just about everywhere at one time or other. The potential for a deer of that size to be taken, either by bow or gun, exists virtually everywhere.


Many people of average means hunt whitetails in this state, whether on their own properties or through season-long leases of other tracts. Leasing of hunting access got its start in Texas many decades ago and is considered the norm here — much as it's since become elsewhere. But many people also hunt for free with friends. Some others book bowhunts through outfitters. And still others go the public route.

While over 95 percent of Texas is privately held, that still leaves plenty of acres open to the public. Wildlife management areas run by Texas Parks & Wildlife Department are scattered over the state, and some host bowhunts for whitetails.

In addition, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers controls recreational opportunities around many major reservoirs, and some of these have archery hunting. Available hunts, permit requirements and hunting regulations vary by property and agency.


The legendary Taylor buck is a true Texas trophy with a net entry score of 254 4/8.

Huge deer sometimes are shot on these public bowhunts, particularly those held on the tracts bordering reservoirs. In fact, a giant non-typical scoring over 200 P&Y was taken last season on a quota bowhunt at Granger Lake, which is just northeast of Austin. And every year mega-bucks await archers drawn to hunt sprawling Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge bordering Lake Texoma north of Dallas.

There's a widespread perception most ranches in Texas are surrounded by "game-proof" fences, precluding deer taken on them from being entered into P&Y. However, that's not actually the case. Most tracts are low-fenced. Even tracts bordered by high fences tend not to be totally surrounded by them. Such fences are most prevalent in the western half of the state, especially in parts of the Brush Country and Hill Country.

For more on P&Y bucks from Texas and elsewhere across North America, visit: pope-young.org.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

How to Manage Expectations When Planning and Planting Food Plots

How to Manage Expectations When Planning and Planting Food Plots

Haynes Shelton talks about how to deal with problems and issues you will likely encounter when planning and planting food plots for wildlife. It's all about managing expectations.

How to Build the Ultimate Arrow for Whitetail

How to Build the Ultimate Arrow for Whitetail

Jace Bauserman shows how to build the ultimate arrow for hunting whitetail.

Dr. Deer: Protein Supplementation

Dr. Deer: Protein Supplementation

For many hunters and land managers, feeding the herd is now a popular management activity. Here's the research behind doing it right.

How to Control Predators on Deer Hunting Property

How to Control Predators on Deer Hunting Property

Dr. James Kroll and Pat Hogan discuss ways to help control predators on deer hunting property.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

We'll explain which supplements whitetails can obtain in the field, and the best ways to provide them with the ones they can't. Which Minerals Do Deer Need? Off-Season

Which Minerals Do Deer Need?

Dr. James C. Kroll

We'll explain which supplements whitetails can obtain in the field, and the best ways to...

Whitetail deer probably represent more protein hitting the table than any other game species inHow to Cook Venison - A Wild Game Chef's Guide Venison Recipes

How to Cook Venison - A Wild Game Chef's Guide

Jesse Griffiths

Whitetail deer probably represent more protein hitting the table than any other game species in

Even snow-white deer are fairly common in comparison to those that are abnormally dark in color.Rarest Whitetails Of All? Deer Behavior & Facts

Rarest Whitetails Of All?

Gordon Whittington - September 22, 2010

Even snow-white deer are fairly common in comparison to those that are abnormally dark in...

Here's a look at some of the new deer rifles from SHOT Show 2020!Best New Deer Hunting Rifles for 2020 Guns

Best New Deer Hunting Rifles for 2020

Lynn Burkhead - January 29, 2020

Here's a look at some of the new deer rifles from SHOT Show 2020!

See More Trending Articles

More United States

In 1972, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) completed a gigantic project creating a shortcutTag A Trophy Whitetail at the Tenn-Tom Waterway United States

Tag A Trophy Whitetail at the Tenn-Tom Waterway

Bernie Barringer - February 22, 2018

In 1972, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) completed a gigantic project creating a...

The words Plentiful DIY Hunting In Ohio's Wayne National Forest United States

Plentiful DIY Hunting In Ohio's Wayne National Forest

Bernie Barringer - November 21, 2017

The words "national forest" generally create a mental image of large blocks of uninterrupted...

Check out our expert's picks for the top 10 deer hunting destinations for 2018!The 10 Best Deer Hunting Spots for 2018 United States

The 10 Best Deer Hunting Spots for 2018

Bob Humphrey

Check out our expert's picks for the top 10 deer hunting destinations for 2018!

For a state over 400 miles wide, with whitetails found in numbers from one end to the other andThe Scoop On Bowhunting in Tennessee United States

The Scoop On Bowhunting in Tennessee

Gordon Whittington - October 16, 2017

For a state over 400 miles wide, with whitetails found in numbers from one end to the other and

See More United States

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All North American Whitetail subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now