AUSTIN — Dove hunters will have more opportunities earlier in the season, as the dates and bag limits were finalized recently by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved the 2015-’16 Texas dove season, including a 70-day season and 15-bird daily bag statewide, and a 16-day early teal and Canada goose season.
The traditional Sept. 1 dove season opening day in the north and central zones remains. The first segment in those zones will be five days longer than last season, closing on Sunday, Oct. 25. The season will reopen Friday, Dec. 18 and run through Friday, Jan. 1, 2016 in the north and central Zones.
In the south zone, the first segment will be longer by two days compared to last year. The south zone opens Friday, Sept. 18 and 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.
The Special White-winged Dove Area will be restricted to afternoon only (noon to sunset); hunting the weekends on Sept. 5-6 and 12-13. Hunting in this area will reopen Friday, Sept. 18, continue through Wednesday, Oct. 21 and then reopen Friday, Dec. 18 through Monday, Jan. 18, 2016.
During the early two weekends, the daily bag limit is 15 birds, to include not more than two mourning doves and two white-tipped doves. Once the general season opens, the aggregate bag limit will be 15, with no more than two white-tipped doves.
“Age-ratios (juveniles versus adults) from last season indicated very strong production in mourning doves across Texas last year; we expect similar or slightly increased production this year with the improved habitat conditions across nearly all of Texas,” said Shaun Oldenburger, TPWD’s dove program leader. “However, improved habitat conditions equal more food and water on the landscape, which means hunters may need to spend more time patterning mourning doves prior to opening day in their area.”
Duck hunters can anticipate improved conditions for the September early teal season, as abundant rains have filled lakes and marshes for the first time in several years. With record numbers of teal expected to make their way into Texas during the upcoming months, prospects should be good.
A 16-day statewide early teal and eastern zone Canada goose season will run Saturday, Sept. 12 through Sunday, Sept. 27. The daily bag on teal remains six, with a possession limit of 18. The bag limit for Canada geese will be three, and a possession limit of six in the eastern zone only.
“Blue-winged teal numbers (8.5 million) are way above the minimum of 4.7 million needed for a 16-day season,” said Kevin Kraai, TPWD waterfowl program leader. “Conditions for teal across the state are excellent, and hunters are urged to have their fingers crossed for a timely migration in the middle of September.”
Hunters are reminded that licenses go on sale Aug, 15 for the 2015-’16 hunting seasons, and 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 a.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 hours a day, seven days a week.
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.
Hunting and fishing regulations for the new season can be found in the 2015-2016 Outdoor Annual, available at license retailers Aug. 15, online at www.txoutdoorannual.com, and via the free outdoor annual mobile app available for Apple and Android devices.
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 legally hunt 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.
A Migratory Game Bird endorsement and Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification are also required to hunt dove or teal in September. HIP certification involves a brief survey of previous year’s migratory bird hunting success, and is conducted at the time licenses are purchased. Duck hunters also need to purchase a federal duck stamp.