Question: I know that Texas has a Managed Lands Deer Permit (MLDP)program that allows hunters to get involved with white-tailed deer management and in some cases shoot over their regular season bag limit? How does this program work and what do I have to get involved? We are interested in managing our deer for better whitetail hunting.
Answer: Good question. The Managed Lands Deer Permit Program is administered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). The first step is to contact your local TPWD wildlife biologist. They will want to set up a meeting with you on your property and look at the available deer habitat and its condition. The biologist will estimate the number of deer your property can support.
Then, the biologist will help you set up some surveys and instruct you on how to conduct deer surveys so that you can estimate the number of deer on the property. After the surveys are completed you must send in your ranch’s data to your biologist, who will then use the data to estimate the number of whitetail deer that are on your property.
The number of MLD permits issued is the different between the number of estimated deer on your property and the number the property can support. For example, if they say your property can support 100 animals, but your surveys estimate 125 animals, then you will receive 100 MLD permits.
Permits are issued from survey data that attempts to estimate the deer population that exists on a property. MLD permits are only issued under the premise that a landowner wants to manage both the habitat and deer herd found on their property. Property size has little to do with permit issuance, but more importantly the relationship between the number of deer and the amount of available habitat. As a rule of thumb, however, smaller properties usually receive fewer permits than larger properties.
There are 3 levels to the program. Level 1 permits are issued for does only. Level 2 MLDP allows the harvest of does and spikes during archery season using any whitetail hunting method and up until the end of February. Under Level 2, any buck can be shot during the start of the general season until the end of February. Level 3 MLDP allows the harvest of any deer, buck or doe, from the beginning of archery season until the end of February using any whitetail hunting method. Level 3 offers the most flexibility for deer management, but you must work your way up. You can move up one level each year.