Staying on the Right Side of Dove Laws
I t’s a safe assumption the majority of hunters are fully aware of the regulations associated with dove hunting, but there remain common violations that game wardens continue to see each September.
Most of them are easily avoidable, and in all reality, these issues rest at the heart of conservation: It’s up to responsible hunters to show youths and those who’ve never hunted how to conduct themselves legally and safely.
Citation figures compiled by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department highlight six areas that account for the majority of mourning dove and white-winged dove violations annually. Here’s a breakdown of those and some things to think about as fall wingshooting seasons begin this month:
Hunting without a license: My guess is some hunters feel the risk of being caught without the proper documentation isn’t that high. However, the cost of a license sure beats the alternative citation, and if you’re introducing someone to the pursuit, you certainly want to do it the legal and ethical way.
I would bet some hunters likely have waited until the last minute to purchase a license only to find retailers swamped right before the opener and decided to chance it. You can avoid lines if you buy online through the TPWD website, and a confirmation number will work in lieu of a license if you meet a game warden.
Using an unplugged shotgun: On all migratory game bird hunts your shotgun must be plugged to a three-shell capacity. Some bird hunters likely forget to put in a plug, which simply can be a wooden dowel, back into their firearms after hunting turkey, quail or pheasants. This is something you can be sure all game wardens will check.
It also should be noted that if you set up a combo hunt during the early teal season, you may not use lead shot for the fluttering fliers. Make sure your lead loads that are legal for doves don’t get mixed in with non-toxic shot, which is the only legal method for taking waterfowl.
Exceeding bag/possession limit: Double dipping, shooting a limit of doves in the morning and then again in the afternoon, falls into this category. In previous years, regulations prohibited dove hunting in the morning to avoid this problem altogether.
The possession limit for migratory game birds was changed a couple of years ago to three times the daily bag. You obviously wouldn’t want to be found with multiple limits until after at least the second day of the season. In past years, the daily bag limit was 15 in the north zone and 12 in the central and south zones. This year again, the statewide daily bag is 15.
Hunting without a migratory game bird stamp: There isn’t actually a stamp that comes on your license but rather an endorsement that reads “Migratory GmBrd” if you purchase it. You must have this endorsement, which isn’t included on a standard hunting license. It costs $7 to legally hunt doves.
However, the endorsement is included in the price of a $68 super combo license. You also must be Harvest Information Program certified, which means answering questions about the number of birds taken on hunts from last season. The certification should appear on a license below your personal information.
Hunting/possessing doves in closed season: Dove season in the north zone runs from September 1 to November 13 and December 17 to January 1. The central zone season is from September 1 to November 6 and December 17 to January 8. The south zone season is September 23 to November 13 and December 17 to January 23.
The special white-winged dove area in South Texas also has a regular season that runs September 23 to November 9 and December 17 to January 23. The early special season in that area is September 3, 4, 10, and 11, with legal shooting hours of noon to sunset.
Knowing the correct hunting dates is a must. If game wardens hear shotguns booming, you know they’ll be inspecting the area for violations.
Hunting over a baited area: If there is a large concentration of birds in a particular area or if you spot grain on the ground, you should ask questions of a landowner or outfitter before hunting. As an old dove-hunting saying goes, “Look down before you look up.”
Hunters may be cited for hunting over bait, which can include salt, grain or other feed, even if they didn’t know it was there. However, a hunter may hunt migratory game birds over standing crops, at any time over natural vegetation that has been manipulated and where seeds or grains have been scattered as a result of normal agricultural planting, harvesting or post-harvest manipulation, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Consult the Outdoor Annual, which is available where licenses are sold, for more details on all game bird regulations.
Email Will Leschper at
Zebras Invade More Lakes
As we noted in this space in July, invasive species continue to dominate certain areas of the Texas landscape. Giant salvinia is one of those, but the worst freshwater invader of all is the zebra mussel. Recently more bad news surfaced as three more lakes were documented to have the alien in them.
Lake Livingston, Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Worth all tested positive for zebra mussels in May and June.
Since zebra mussels were first found in Texas in 2009, six Texas lakes in three river basins are now “fully infested,” meaning that they have an established, reproducing population, according to Texas Parks & Wildlife.
It is unlawful to possess or transport zebra mussels, dead or alive. Boaters are required to drain all water from their boat and on-board receptacles before leaving or approaching a body of freshwater in order to prevent the transfer of zebra mussels that might be trapped inside.
This regulation applies to all types and sizes of boats whether powered or not—personal watercraft, sailboats, kayaks/canoes or any other vessel used on public waters. Movement from one access point to another on the same lake during the same day does not require draining, according to TPWD.
—by Will Lescper
Neuman to Guide Rice Stewardship
Neuman to Guide Rice Stewardship
Ducks Unlimited recently hired Dennis Neuman to guide the Rice Stewardship efforts in the Lone Star State. A 40-year veteran of Texas Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Neuman’s experience and relationship base along the Texas Coast will help DU continue to grow working rice land conservation and rice industry partnerships.
Neuman is no stranger to working lands conservation. As District Conservationist in Childress, Texas he spent 12 years overseeing an office with one of the highest workloads in that area. While there he directed and applied what became the Conservation Reserve Program, under which he and his staff worked with farmers to convert highly erodible crop fields to native grasses. Today many of these fields are still providing abundant habitat for quail, turkeys and pheasants.
In 1988, Neuman was promoted to a higher District Conservationist position in La Grange where he predominantly worked with livestock producers on planning and applying range and pastureland conservation practices. In the late 1990s his responsibilities were expanded to cover Fayette, Colorado, and Bastrop counties, and his experience expanded to include rice agriculture.
“Beginning in about 2002 myself and my staff started working with rice producers in the Eagle Lake and Garwood areas with the installation of irrigation land leveling and water control structures,” Neuman said. “To date NRCS has had a hand in leveling over 76,000 acres of rice land and installing over 3,000 water control structures along with numerous miles of irrigation pipeline.”
Neuman is no stranger to Texas water management concerns. In 2005 they approved around $2.5 million in financial assistance for irrigation practices through the EQIP program. That was the most ever funded in a single county through that program.
“Since then we have averaged around $1 million a year going to irrigation practices,” he said.
Over the years, Neuman and his staff have worked closely with Ducks Unlimited through the Texas Prairie Wetlands Project. “We’ve worked together to improve numerous shallow wetland areas,” he said.
In 2014, while serving as acting Team Leader for the Wharton and La Grange teams, Neuman was the lead author on a statewide Central Texas Irrigation Proposal Initiative. The proposal involved working with numerous soil and water conservation districts, county officials, irrigation districts, extension service staff, rice producers, groundwater districts and others to develop a program to conserve water and enhance rice lands. The proposal was accepted as a five-year statewide initiative involving all the rice producing counties from Houston west to east of Victoria. Close to $1 million a year has been allocated to support the forward-thinking program.
Ducks Unlimited is proud to have Neuman on the rice conservation team as we implement conservation programs funded through NRCS, other federal and state programs, and the RESTORE Act. Adding Neuman’s expertise to the capable staff handling our Texas Prairie Wetlands Project as we advocate for sound water management decisions, will step up conservation in rice lands across the Texas Coast.
—by Andi Cooper