Experts predict a good dove hunting season in Texas

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas’ dove hunters will likely have a good season this year if the current weather conditions remain, experts say.

Owen Fitzsimmons, dove program leader with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, says this will be a change from previous years.

“We’re coming off a couple of rough years for our hunters,” Fitzsimmons said. “In 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit just before the season started and last year, we had a really hot, dry summer, followed by a ton of rain in September which kind of put a damper on the hunting season.’

Fitzsimmons says good timely rains in the early spring this year helped kick habitat into high gear for the dove breeding season.

“We had some really good hatches and really good production and that’s going to lead into a great year,” he said.

When dove hunting season begins Sept. 1, hunters will benefit from a simpler process to show proof-of-license this year. A new law will allow people to use a digital image of their license as proof-of-license for any hunting that doesn’t require a tag. This applies to dove hunting. People can show a digital photo, an emailed receipt or an online purchase record. They can also show their license through the Outdoor Annual App or the My Texas Hunt Harvest App.

There are more than 300,000 Texas dove hunters in the state, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Marc Sosebee, of Austin, goes dove hunting every year with his family.

“Since I was about 11,” he said.

The 65-year-old brings his granddaughters with him.

“You see things that you don’t see normally,” he said. “You notice things — a lot of God’s awesome creations, the little bugs to the birds, to all types of stuff.”

Like other experts, he encourages safety.

“Don’t shoot over houses and don’t shoot birds out of trees,” he said.

Fitzsimmons encourages hunters to use eye and ear protection, too.

The dove seasons for the North and Central Zones begin Sept. 1 and run through Nov. 12 and continues from Dec. 20 through Jan. 5. South Zone’s season runs from Sept. 14 through Nov. 3 and continues from Dec. 20 through Jan. 23. This is when a majority of the doves are harvested.

“An opening date of the 14th pretty much guarantees that we’re going to have hunting opportunities every weekend of September into the future,” Fitzsimmons said about the Sept. 14 start in the South Zone.

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