AUSTIN – Conditions were prime for record harvest of white-winged doves as hunting in the South Zone got under way last week.
Based on preliminary results from the early Special White-winged Dove Area weekend seasons, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department noted the regular season opening weekend should be good to excellent for white-winged doves in many areas in coastal and South Texas.
The South Zone runs through Wednesday, Oct. 21. The second segment will run Friday, Dec. 18 through Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. The daily bag limit for doves statewide is 15 and the possession limit is 45.
Dove hunting in the Special White-winged Dove Area also reopened today and continues through Wednesday, Oct. 21, and then reopens Friday, Dec. 18 through Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. During the general season, the aggregate bag limit in the Special White-winged Dove Area is 15 with no more than two white-tipped doves.
Department surveys indicate significant increases observed in white-winged dove breeding populations in South Texas, which should equate to more birds in the air during the season.
“Expectations are for a record harvest of white-winged doves throughout the state based on TPWD breeding survey information and observations on production from biologists around the state,” said Shaun Oldenburger, TPWD’s dove program leader. “For mourning doves, increases were observed in breeding populations in South Texas, but with the increased water and seeds on the landscape thanks to precipitation this spring and into summer, mourning doves may be more widespread than previous years. Furthermore, production was fair to good for mourning doves in many locations in South Texas, so if enough scouting and field preparation occurred in a location, opening day should produce satisfactory results.”
Hunters are reminded that a current hunting license, a Migratory Game Bird endorsement and Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification are required to hunt dove. HIP certification involves a brief survey of previous year’s migratory bird hunting success and is conducted at the time licenses are purchased. They can be purchased through the agency’s 28 field offices, more than 50 state parks and at over 1,700 retailers across the state. Licenses may also be purchased online through the TPWD website at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/buy or by phone at 1-800-895-4248. Call center hours are Monday through Friday, 8 p.m. to 5 p.m. and there is a required $5 administrative fee for each phone or online transaction. The online transaction system is available 24/7. For online and phone orders, a physical license will be mailed within three business days. During that time period, a transaction receipt will be provided via email that will be sufficient proof of hunting license and required endorsements that can be used for dove hunting, though it will not be allowed for the take of fish or wildlife that require a tag.
In addition to a hunting license, anyone born after Sept. 1, 1971, must successfully complete a hunter education training course or purchase a one-time deferral good for one license year in order to hunt legally in Texas. The certification is valid for life and is honored in all other states and provinces. More information on hunter education certification is available online at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/outdoor-learning/hunter-education.