2013-08-02 / Sports

Dove season just weeks away

Staff Writer

A dove rests in a pecan tree on East Fifth Street in Lampasas. Large numbers of doves have been seen recently in town and in the country. 
PHOTO BY JEFF LOWE A dove rests in a pecan tree on East Fifth Street in Lampasas. Large numbers of doves have been seen recently in town and in the country. PHOTO BY JEFF LOWE It’s a good time to clean that old shotgun and do a little skeet shooting to get ready for another year of bird hunting.

The 2013 dove season is less than a month away. For Lampasas County and other counties in the Central Zone of Texas, the season will begin Sept. 1 and last through Oct. 23. Mourning, white-winged and white-tipped dove may all be hunted during that time.

A shorter season will open on Dec. 20 and continue until Jan. 5.

Dove season is one of the most popular hunting seasons in Texas. While there are several species of dove in Texas, the mourning dove is the most common.

In an average year, more than 400,000 Texas hunters bag between 5 million and 7 million mourning doves, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Web site.

The Central Zone bag limit for dove will remain at 15. Of those 15, no more than two can be white-tipped doves.

Effective this season, the possession limit – the total number a hunter can have in his possession – is 45 doves.

Those who travel to South Texas to hunt will notice another change for this year’s dove season.

The Special White-winged Dove Area in South Texas has been expanded for the 2013 season. The eastern boundary of the zone will be extended to I-37 from San Antonio to Corpus Christi. The zone is bounded by U.S. Highway 90 to the north, the Rio Grande on the west, and extends to the Gulf of Mexico.

In the Special Whitewinged Dove Area, hunting is permitted Sept. 1-2 and Sept. 7-8 from noon until sunset. In that area of South Texas, the regular dove season is Sept. 20-Oct. 23.

Trey Carpenter, wildlife biologist for the TPWD Hill Country region, said he expects this to be a great year for dove hunting in Lampasas County.

TPWD traps and bands dove during the off-season to estimate the population in a given area. Carpenter said he has caught a lot of mourning doves as well as white-wings this year.

Carpenter said he has noticed a trend of more white-winged doves appearing in the country, while in the past it was more common to see them in town.

The biologist said the rain Lampasas County received in July has been a large reason for the increased numbers, as has last winter’s above-normal temperatures.

“There ought to be lots of hard seeds for them to eat,” Carpenter said.

A dove’s diet is almost entirely made up of seeds. While dove enjoy crops such as sorghum and wheat, the seeds from weeds also are a major food source.

Croton -- a group of plants that includes doveweed – and ragweed numbers are high this summer, according to Rufus Stephens, biology leader for the Hill Country District. The abundance of weeds should give local doves plenty of food as well as cover, Stephens said.

Although recent rains have helped, the U.S. Drought Monitor still lists Lampasas County as being in moderate drought.

“If we don’t have significant rains throughout the summer, it’ll probably make hunting around tanks more effective,” Stephens said.

Stephens said although there are larger numbers of dove in the area, they may be somewhat scattered because food is widely distributed.

He encouraged hunters to report any banded doves they harvest during the season, to help with TPWD’s management efforts.

While dove season may get more attention, the September teal-only season also will open soon.

Statewide, the season will last from Sept, 14-29, and includes blue-winged, green-winged and cinnamon teal.

This year’s daily bag limit for the teal season has been increased to six, up from four last year. The possession limit is 18 birds.

Hunting and fishing licenses for the 2013-2014 season will go on sale Aug. 15, as 2012- 2013 licenses expire Aug. 31.

A license is required to hunt any game animal in Texas. A basic hunting license for residents of the state costs $25.

A Texas Migratory Game Bird Stamp Endorsement costs $7 and is required for hunting dove and ducks. A Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (duck stamp) also is required to hunt ducks and costs an additional $15.

A Super Combo, which includes a hunting and fishing license plus all state-required stamp endorsements, costs $68.

Other license options such as a senior resident license, a lifetime hunting license and a military super combo license also are available.

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