Texas Dove Hunting Prospects Bright for Season Opener Sept. 1

Staff Writer

AUSTIN -- Though Hurricane Harvey caused a significant drop in dove hunter effort and harvest numbers last year, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department expects the 2018-19 season to be back to normal. In Texas terms, normal means exceptional.
Opening day of dove hunting is Saturday, Sept. 1 statewide. For the third consecutive year, Texas dove hunters can look forward to a liberal 90-day season and 15-bird daily bag limits. In addition, hunters in Texas’ South Dove Zone have the opportunity to hunt every weekend in September thanks to the Special White-winged Dove Days Sept. 1, 2, 8, and 9, combined with a Sept. 14 zone opener, the earliest in half a century. Though hunting hours are limited to afternoons during the Special White-winged Dove Days (noon-sunset), hunters in the southern portion of the state are now able to take advantage of the earlier dates in which the majority of dove harvest in Texas occurs.
Over 300,000 Texas hunters harvest nearly one third of the mourning doves taken nationwide each year, far more than any other state. In recent years, an estimated 10 million doves are harvested in Texas annually. While Texas supports breeding populations of over 34 million mourning and 10 million white-winged doves, those numbers swell during the fall when birds from northern latitudes funnel south.
“Texas is uniquely situated to catch a lot of migratory birds as they move through the central part of the continent. Couple that with the fact that we are such a big state with diverse habitats, and it makes sense that we have such large numbers of doves,” said Owen Fitzsimmons, TPWD Dove Program Leader.
“Despite the dry conditions this summer, we had excellent production very early in the spring thanks to a mild winter and good rains in February and March, so there are a lot of birds around,” Fitzsimmons said. “Unless we get significant rain in the next couple of weeks, hunters really need to key in on areas with water. That’s where the birds will be concentrated.”

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