Texas Walk-in Access Program Offers Opportunity for Hunters

Staff Photo

This voluntary program helps increase the acres of public hunting land in the Lone Star state

By Will Burkhead

Of the nearly 172 million acres that encompass the Lone Star State, roughly 95 percent of the land in the state is privately owned. With such a small array of public land at our disposal and an ever-growing population as people migrate to the great state I call home, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is faced with the incredible uphill battle of providing enough public hunting land. The state agency however houses a program that helps increase the acres of public hunting land … the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP). This program works by paying private landowners to allow public hunting on their properties. Landowners are paid on a dollar-per-acre basis and are offered flexible contracts to meet their needs.

In the 2020-2021 season, the program opened 41,000 acres of privately owned land to the public for hunting. The only requirement for access to these properties is a $48 Annual Public Hunting (APH) Permit, allowing hunters the opportunity to chase everything from waterfowl on the Texas coast to quail in the Texas Panhandle. With the purchase of the permit, hunters will receive a public hunting lands map booklet that introduces all the various opportunities in the state.

The program also features a draw hunt system that allows hunters to enjoy phenomenal private land hunting at minimal cost. After purchasing the APH Permit, hunters can pay $10 to enter for a private land hunt pursuing white-tailed deer, dove, quail, turkey, feral hogs, and even pronghorn antelope.

Will Burkhead is a Quail Forever's North-Central Texas Coordinating Wildlife Biologist.

This story originally appeared in the spring issue of Quail Forever Journal. If you enjoyed it and would like to read more great upland content, become a member today!