Going dove hunting this weekend?

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Although Tuesday was the official opening day of dove season, but for most of Texas dove hunters, this weekend will be opening day. “I believe this weekend could be really good for a lot of dove hunters,” said Shaun Oldenburger, dove program leader for Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. “Our dove numbers in Texas are strong and there’s a lot of food on the ground because of the rains we had earlier this year. That should help keep birds around.”

Mourning dove populations are approximately 31 million birds, about 16 percent higher than the 2008-2014 average. Whitewing population is estimated at nearly 10 million birds, up almost 50 percent from the same average. There are about 4.1 million collared doves.

Reports received from around the state indicate dove hunters on Tuesday had mixed results. Some of the best results have come from areas near cities or towns holding large concentrations of whitewings who generally move from roosts to feeding areas in flocks, making for easier shooting. Mourning doves, widely spread across the landscape, and less likely to move in large groups, give hunters a harder time.

Different guides were reporting that the afternoon hunts always seem to be a lot better.

Are you still looking for a place to hunt? The Annual Public Hunting Permit (APH, $48.00) provides year-round hunting on nearly one million acres of land, including wildlife management areas, state parks, and approximately 120 dove and small game areas leased from private landowners.

Besides shotguns and shells, don’t forget to bring your current hunting license. Licenses renewed in August. Hunters born on or after Sept. 2, 1971, including out-of-state hunters, must carry proof of Hunter Education certification or deferral. To hunt dove hunters are also required to have a Texas Migratory Game Bird Stamp and a free Harvest Information Program certification.

Good luck this weekend and safe shooting!

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