T EXAS DOVE HUNTERS will have the opportunity this fall to become wildlife research assistants and maybe drive away in a new Polaris Ranger UTV next year, courtesy of the Texas Dove Hunters Association.
The Texas BB (Banded Bird) Challenge kicks off this year with a goal of conducting the first research project of its kind focusing on Eurasian Collared Doves – considered an invasive species found all over the state.
Bob Thornton, founder of the TDHA, said the research project involves volunteer trappers attaching numbered leg bands on 300 Eurasian Collared Doves that have been captured and then released across the state.
Hunters and outfitters entered in the TDHA contest who bag any of the banded birds from Sept. 1, 2018 through Jan. 31, 2019, will be eligible for a prize drawing including a Polaris Ranger UTV by Hoffpauir Outdoors of Goldthwaite; shotguns by CZ-USA; TDHA Frio coolers; Chippewa snake boots and TDHA memberships including lifetime and 3 year membership packages.
There is also a First Flight high school division (14-years-old and older) featuring a prize of a $1,000 scholarship; a First Flight youth division (10-13 years old) with a prize of an overnight guided dove hunt for two; and a guide/outfitter division with a prize of a guided trophy trout fishing trip for two on Baffin Bay.
The banded birds will have a band on their left leg stating “Winner! Call 210-764-1189 or go to www.texasdovehunters.com.” A TDHA number from 001 to 300 will also be imprinted on each band.
Any registered hunter who harvests a TDHA banded Eurasian Collared Dove and reports the number to TDHA will receive a TDHA membership pack if they are not drawn for a top prize, if they are registered in the BB Challenge prior to harvesting the bird. They are also entered in to a drawing to win one of the many fabulous prizes, insuring that the research effort will be a win-win situation for everyone.
Information gathered from birds harvested during the contest are such traits such as migration habits, climate preferences, ageing and to estimate survival and harvest rates. This information is recorded using the same
methods as a current federal project conducted on white-winged and mourning doves.
Unlike the heavily researched migratory mourning and white-winged doves that attract nearly 300,000 hunters to hunting fields each season, very limited information is available on the Eurasian Collared dove that can be hunted year round with no bag limit.
Entry forms and a complete set of guidelines for the Texas BB Challenge are available on the TDHA website at texasdovehunters.com.
—TF&G Staff Report
H UNTERS WILL SEE several hunting regulation changes this fall, including an early opener for dove season in the South Zone, a mule deer season in Lynn County, experimental mule deer antler restrictions, an increase to the northern pintail bag limit, and a one week reduction to the spring Eastern turkey season for 2019 in 13 counties.
The following modifications and clarifications to the 2018-19 Statewide Hunting Proclamation, details of which will be incorporated into this year’s Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Outdoor Annual, have been approved by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission:
• Open the general dove season in the South Zone on Sept. 14; earliest starting date for the region since 1950.
• Shorten the Eastern spring turkey hunting season in Bowie, Cass, Fannin, Grayson, Jasper, Lamar, Marion, Nacogdoches, Newton, Panola, Polk, Red River, and Sabine by one week while retaining the current closing date of May 14. The Commission also approved closing the Eastern turkey season in Upshur and San Augustine counties.
• Open in Lynn County a 9-day buck-only mule deer season with no special archery season.
• Set a 20-inch minimum outside antler spread of the main beams restriction on mule deer bucks in Briscoe, Childress, Cottle, Floyd, Motley, and Hall counties.
• Clarify that deer antler restriction regulations that state in each county where antler restrictions are imposed, a person who takes a buck in violation of antler restrictions is prohibited from subsequently harvesting any buck deer with branched antlers on both main beams in that county during that current deer season.
• Lastly, The Commission adopted changes that simplified archery regulations by remove requirements for broadhead hunting points to have two cutting edges and a cutting width of 7/8 of an inch. Also removed were the minimum pull requirement of 125 pounds and the minimum crossbow stock length of 25 inches.
After re-evaluating a proposal that would permit the use of air guns and arrow guns to take certain game animals, game birds, alligators, and furbearers, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has rescinded the previous rule they adopted in March and has requested staff to modify their recommendations and propose new rules to be considered by the Commission at their next scheduled meeting in August.
A NOTHER EXAMPLE OF BLACK MARKET online shopping occurred on June 2 when a game warden found a post on the trading app OfferUp advertising “fresh caught” fish for sale in the Houston area. The picture on the post was taken at night and showed a man holding two bull red drum. The warden contacted the seller and found out he had three redfish for sale and was asking $10 per pound. The seller claimed the fish weighed 80 pounds total and that he had caught them on two separate trips during the week. Wardens made contact with the seller and the seller’s father, who had come along to help close the deal, in a pharmacy store parking lot. In the trunk of their car, wardens found the three redfish, which measured 36, 42, and 45 inches in length, respectively. The father admitted to catching one of the fish and the son claimed the other two. Neither of them had a current fishing license nor any type of commercial license. Charges and restitution are pending.
South Texas game wardens recently wrapped up a six-month multistate investigation of an illegal commercial hunting operation on a ranch in Live Oak County. The wardens were contacted by a landowner regarding his ranch manager selling hunts under the table and hunting without consent. The landowner learned of the illegal activities when contacted by a taxidermist regarding an unpaid balance for several mounts belonging to the ranch manager. The landowner did not give the ranch manager or his family permission to harvest any animals on the ranch. During an extensive investigation, wardens determined the ranch manager had been selling trophy hunts to out of state clients, pocketing their money, and falsifying the ranch harvest records. The ranch manager was responsible for brokering illegal hunts for 14 white-tailed deer (with scores ranging from 245 B&C to under 100 B&C) and numerous exotic game animals. The ranch manager and his daughter also unlawfully appropriated $17,450 from the ranch owner. Hunters paid for their hunts by check made out to the ranch manager or daughter instead of to the ranch. The wardens obtained arrest warrants for the ranch manager for hunting without consent for white-tailed deer and exotic animals. He was arrested without incident.
On June 5, a Bell County game warden was alerted to a person who had stopped at a gas station with a fawn in her vehicle. The complainant sent pictures and a license plate number, which showed the vehicle registered to a woman in Rogers. The warden also learned the woman had an arrest warrant for assault with bodily injury. The warden contacted the suspect, who admitted to driving the deer around in her car; however, she couldn’t find it now on her 10-acre property. The woman was placed under arrest for the warrant and for illegal possession of the white-tailed deer.
After receiving a number of reports related to birds that had been found shot dead in northeast Edinburg, game wardens set up surveillance in the general vicinity. While investigating signs of trespassing into municipal properties, the officers heard pellet gunshots on the other side of a steep drainage ditch. While one of the officers engaged the individual from a distance, the other game warden crossed the drainage ditch to meet with the subject. The man immediately explained that he had been hunting “all kinds of birds,” as well as rabbits, but was unaware a hunting license was necessary. He subsequently admitted to shooting protected birds, including a stork on the water body adjacent to the Edinburg World Birding Center. The officers addressed various violations, including hunting without a license, no hunter’s education, and hunting protected birds.
On June 9 while on patrol, Cameron County game wardens responded to a distress call in the bay near South Padre Island. The victim was found shortly after arriving to his last known location and was brought aboard the game warden’s vessel. He stated he had been paddling into a strong wind. His kayak became swamped and, before he realized what was happening, it capsized. The kayaker also mentioned had he not been wearing his life jacket he would not have been able to tread water for the 15-20 minutes it took for his friends to realize he was in trouble and for help to arrive.
A Travis County man was arrested recently on a warrant charging him with hunting from a vehicle for an incident back in January in Blanco County. A Blanco County warden had received a call regarding a shot fired from a roadway and with assistance from local law enforcement caught up to the suspect. The warden discovered a dead white-tailed deer in a trash bag in the bed of the subject’s truck, and observed a small bullet wound to the deer’s head. The subject stated he had picked up the deer from the roadway after it was hit by a car. The warden saw no evidence that the animal had been struck by a vehicle. The driver of the vehicle was cited for possession of white-tailed deer in closed season and released. The warden then spent the next three hours on foot searching the area where he believed the deer was shot, and found a single shot .22 rifle lying in the ditch. An arrest warrant was issued for a Travis County resident for hunting from a vehicle. The charges are pending.