AUSTIN –Texas dove hunters should see plenty of opportunity this fall as conditions are shaping up for an above average season, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Dove season kicks off Sunday, Sept. 1 across most of the state.
Texas dove hunters number upwards of 250,000 and collectively bag between 5-6 million doves during the 70-day season. Thanks to new rules approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) this year, hunters can possess up to 45 birds -- three times the daily bag limit. Previously, the possession limit was twice the daily bag. Daily bag limits still apply.
The USFWS also approved for this year an expanded Special White-wing Dove Area (SWWDA) in South Texas. The SWWDA will now extend eastward along its current boundary and continue south along Interstate 37 from San Antonio to Corpus Christi, effectively doubling its current size.
“For the last two decades, white-winged dove populations have steadily expanded both their numbers and their geographical extent,” said Dave Morrison, Small Game Program Director with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “We believe, and the Service agrees, an expansion is appropriate to take advantage of additional hunting opportunities.”
To take advantage of the earliest possible opening dates for the special area, the season will run Sunday, Sept. 1 through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2, and then reopen Saturday, Sept. 7 and Sunday, Sept. 8. The daily bag limit during the combined four-day season is 15 doves in the aggregate to include no more than two mourning doves and two white-tipped doves and hunting during the early season in the SWWDA is permitted only from noon to sunset.
Dove season in the North and Central zones will run concurrent from Sept. 1-Oct. 23 and Dec. 20-Jan. 5. The South Zone dove season is set for Sept. 20-Oct. 27 and Dec. 20-Jan. 20, with the regular season in the SWWDA Sept. 20-Oct. 23 and Dec. 20-Jan. 20.
According to Shaun Oldenburger, TPWD’s Dove Program Leader, hunters can expect to see an increase from last year in dove numbers.
“It appears that breeding dove numbers have increased from last year in many regions of the state,” he said. “Increased precipitation helped improve dove production and generate ample food supplies. It should be a good season.”