Deer hunting has a rich tradition in Texas, to say nothing of the fact that it’s big business in some rural parts of the state.
But you don’t want to hunt in the off-season because penalties for violations of state wildlife laws can run as high as $10,000 plus jail time for the most serious offenders.
There is a measure on its way to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk, however, that would allow some Texans to hunt white-tailed deer off-season, and a Democrat from South Texas is one of the lawmakers behind the move.
State Rep. Poncho Nevárez intends the bill to protect one of Texas’ federally-recognized Native American tribe’s right to practice their religion. Hunting white-tailed deer is a part of a sacred tradition that’s been practiced by the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Eagle Pass for centuries.
This tradition is supposed to take place year round, but Texas law prohibits hunting the deer in the off-season.
“We aren’t amplifying or expanding the ability to hunt deer for the whole population or harvesting great numbers of deer,” Nevárez says. “The population of the Kickapoo doesn’t exceed more than 1,000 at any given time, so you’re not talking about a population decimating the deer population.”
The ability to hunt white-tailed deer would also be relegated. The Kickapoo own about 10,000 acres on which they would be allowed to hunt, should the bill become law.
This isn’t the first time a version of this bill has come up in the Legislature. Former Governor Rick Perry vetoed a similar measure in 2007.
“I think it’s just that people don’t understand. It’s a very small number [of deer], and I think that might have been what doomed it earlier,” Nevárez says as to why the bill has failed in the past.
However, Nevárez says he is confident Abbott will sign the measure this time around.
Written by Taylor Jackson Buchanan.