Lake Brownwood State Park will be closed from Dec. 2-7 and again from Dec. 11-16 for a special permit deer hunt.
    Hunters chosen in advance will have the opportunity to hunt in the park during the closure, which aims to reduce the local overpopulation of deer.
    John Holland is the park superintendent at Lake Brownwood. He said the park had been hosting public hunts since 1995. “As the agency that is supposed to be managing the resources based on science,” he said, referring to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, “it made sense for us to manage the deer herd as well. Public hunts was the way we chose to do it.
    “For safety reasons, of course we can’t have other people out there wandering around while there’s people trying to hunt deer,” Holland said.
    The closure will begin on Friday, Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. The next two days will be a youth hunt for kids 16 and under.
    “Nobody that’s not participating in the hunt can stay at the park during that time,” Holland said.
    Holland said that special permit hunts involved a random online drawing for people who registered. They enter to be chosen for hunts at parks and public lands around the state. Holland said there was a fee to apply and participate in the special hunts, but they were “still a lot cheaper than a lease on private land.”
    Holland said all hunters would be assigned a deer blind within the park and expected to hunt from there, with park employees picking up and dropping off the hunters from their blinds each day. “It’s because the park is not real large,” Holland said. “It’s about 500 acres … so we’re very careful selecting our places.”
    Holland said there could be standby positions for each special permit hunt, though there are fewer now that the drawing process is entirely online. “There will be the possibility of a few standbys on our hunts, but not many,” Holland said. “We will still allow for standbys if folks want to come out here ahead of time, but if they’re going to do that, they’re going to need to go online and read the rules.”
    Holland said two hikers had ignored the closure warnings during last year’s special permit hunts and walked right in front of a deer blind. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
    “One of the hunters called me and told me he had somebody walk in front of him,” Holland said. “After explaining to [the hikers] that we had kids out there with high-powered rifles waiting for a deer to walk in front of them, they agreed that it was a bad idea to be out there.”
    Holland said the park will also host a Christmas by the Lake celebration after it re-opens. It will feature toy making, refreshments, decorated campsites and even an appearance from Santa Claus.
    “We have hot chocolate, coffee and cookies,” Holland said, “and we’re doing historic toys. Last year kids make string yo-yos and little tops.”
    Holland said there would also be an informative Christmas-themed talk from a park ranger. “Last year we had about 30 kids out here,” he said.
    Christmas by the Lake will be from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 17.