TPWD: Dove Season Opener Prospects Bright
August 22, 2018
Editorial Staff (261 articles)
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TPWD: Dove Season Opener Prospects Bright

Dove season opener Sept. 1

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department expects the 2018-19 season to return to normal. In Texas terms, normal means exceptional.

Opening day of dove hunting is Saturday, Sept. 1 statewide. For the third consecutive year, Texas dove hunters can look forward to a liberal 90-day season and 15-bird daily bag limits.

In addition, hunters in Texas’ South Dove Zone have the opportunity to hunt every weekend in September, thanks to the Special White-winged Dove Days Sept. 1, 2, 8, and 9, combined with a Sept. 14 zone opener.

Over 300,000 Texas hunters take nearly one third of the mourning doves taken nationwide each year, far more than any other state.  In recent years, hunters take an estimated 10 million doves in Texas annually.

Texas supports huge breeding populations

While Texas supports breeding populations of over 34 million mourning and 10 million white-winged doves, those numbers swell during the fall when birds from northern latitudes funnel south.

“Texas is uniquely situated to catch a lot of migratory birds as they move through the central part of the continent. Couple that with the fact that we are such a big state with diverse habitats, and it makes sense that we have such large numbers of doves,” said Owen Fitzsimmons, TPWD Dove Program Leader.

“Despite the dry conditions this summer, we had excellent production very early in the spring thanks to a mild winter and good rains in February and March, so there are a lot of birds around,” Fitzsimmons said. “Unless we get significant rain in the next couple of weeks, hunters really need to key in on areas with water. That’s where the birds will be concentrated.”

White-wing dove expansion

White-winged doves were historically found in the lower Rio Grande Valley, but they have rapidly expanded in numbers and distribution across Texas in recent years. According to Fitzsimmons, white-wing populations continue to grow and make up a larger percentage of daily bag limits statewide. White-wings are now found mostly in and around urban areas, providing hunting opportunity for those hunting just outside major cities and urban centers.

During the early two weekends for the Special White-winged Dove Days (in the South Zone), hunting is allowed only from noon to sunset and the daily bag limit is 15 birds, to include not more than two mourning doves and two white-tipped doves. During the general season in the South Zone, the aggregate bag limit is 15 with no more than two white-tipped doves.

—courtesy TPWD

Ralph Winingham photo

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