Firearms hunters looking for certain access should head to east Texas, where ample public land is open to all who purchase the state’s $48 Annual Public Hunting Permit. A good bet is Sam Houston, by far the largest WMA in the region. You’re less likely to find trophy deer, but the firearms general season (for bucks only) stretches from November 3 to January 6. Pine forests predominate on the relatively gentle terrain, with hardwoods mixed in along streams. “The forest service has really done a good job lately with burning 25 to 30 percent of the acreage each year,” says Bill Adams, project leader for the Pineywoods Ecosystem Project at Texas Parks and Wildlife, “and that encourages weeds and forbs and other early successional plants that really enhance forage availability for deer.” Sam Houston can be busy, especially on opening weekend, but the entire 160,000 acres is open to hunting, which gives those willing to work at it a chance to target more remote, low-traffic areas.