Texas dove hunting season set to add 20 days in 2016-17

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The average dove hunter will shoot six to eight shells per bird harvested.
White-winged doves have migrated farther north into Texas.

Texas dove hunters will receive an additional 20 days this fall if proposed changes to the 2016-17 Statewide Hunting Proclamation for Migratory Game Birds are approved.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved a 90-day Texas dove season, the longest in 80 years, according to state officials.

In addition, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department is recommending a later opener for duck hunting, with a shorter break between splits for the North Zone and a later overall season in the South Zone.

Texas can present proposed migratory game bird regulation changes earlier in the year than previously allowed, according to new federal guidelines. This means the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission can adopt dove and waterfowl hunting seasons at its March 24 public hearing.

TPWD staff proposes to integrate the additional 20 dove hunting days early in the season to take advantage of migrating birds, according to a news release. The traditional Sept. 1 dove season opening day in the North and Central Zones would remain, while the South Zone would open Sept. 23. The first segment in the North and South zones would extend through Nov. 13, while the Central Zone would run until Nov. 6. The season would reopen statewide Dec. 17 and run through Jan. 1 in the North Zone, Jan. 8 in the Central Zone and Jan. 23 in the South Zone.

The daily bag limit for doves statewide would remain 15 and the possession limit 45, in accordance with adopted federal guidelines that now allow hunters to hunt a Friday-Sunday weekend and bring home a full limit each day.

The Special White-winged Dove Area would be restricted to noon to sunset hunting the first two full September weekends (Sept. 3-4 and Sept. 10-11). Hunting in this area would reopen Sept. 23 and continue through, Nov. 13, and then reopen Dec. 17 through Jan. 19. During the early two weekends, the daily bag limit would be 15 birds, to include not more than two mourning doves and two white-tipped doves. Once the general season opens, the aggregate bag limit would be 15 with no more than two white-tipped doves.

Staff recommends a Sept. 10-25 early teal season with a daily bag limit of six birds.

For the general duck season, the following calendar is proposed:

  • High Plains Mallard Management Unit: Youth: Oct. 22-23; Regular: Oct. 29-30 — Nov. 4— Jan. 29; “Dusky” Duck: Nov. 7 — Jan. 29.
  • North Zone: Youth: Nov. 5-6; Regular: Nov. 12-27 and Dec. 3—Jan. 29; “Dusky” Duck: Nov. 17-27 and Dec. 3—Jan. 29.
  • South Zone: Youth: Oct. 29-30; Regular: Nov. 5-27 and Dec. 10 — Jan. 29; “Dusky” Duck: Nov. 10-27 and Dec. 10 — Jan. 29.

Bag Limit: 6/day in the aggregate to include no more than 5 mallards, of which only 2 may be hens, 3 wood ducks, 3 scaup, 2 redheads, 2 pintail , 2 canvasback, 1 “dusky duck” (mottled, black or Mexican-like) after the first 5 days. Mergansers: 5/day with no more than 2 hooded merganser. Coots: 15/day. Possession limit is three times the daily bag limit.

For geese, the proposed framework is as follows:

  • East Zone: Early Canada goose (bag limit of 5 Canada Geese only and possession limit of 15) Sept. 10-25 and Nov. 5 – Jan.29, 2017; white-front Nov. 5 — Jan. 29, 2017; light Nov. 5-Jan. 29, 2017; conservation order Jan. 30 — Mar. 19, 2017.

Bag Limit after the Early Canada Goose: 5 dark geese, to include no more than 2 white-fronted geese, 20 light geese (no possession limit).

  • West Zone: Nov. 5 – Feb. 5, 2017; conservation order Feb. 6 — Mar. 19, 2017.

Bag Limit: 5 dark geese, to include no more than 2 white-fronted geese, 20 light geese (no possession limit).

For sandhill crane:

  • Zone A: Oct. 29 – Jan. 29, 2017.Bag Limit: 3, possession limit 9.
  • Zone B: Nov. 18 — Jan. 29, 2017. Bag Limit: 3, possession limit 9.
  • Zone C: Dec. 17 — Jan. 22, 2017. Bag Limit: 2-possession limit 6.

For Snipe:

  • Oct. 29 — Feb. 12 with a daily bag of 8 and possession limit of 24

For Woodcock:

  • Dec. 18 – Jan. 31, 2017 with a daily bag limit of 3 and possession limit of 9.

For falconry:

  • Statewide: dove Nov. 19-Dec. 5; ducks Jan. 30-Feb. 12, 2017.

Public comment on any of the regulation changes may be made in person at upcoming public meetings, during a live webinar at 7 p.m. March 3 or online through March 24.

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Will Leschper is founder of The Texas Outdoor Digest. He has been recognized for Excellence in Craft by the Outdoor Writers Association of America and the Texas Outdoor Writers Association. He is Conservation Editor of Texas Fish & Game Magazine and is a regular contributor to the Journal of the Texas Trophy Hunters, in addition to writing for plenty of of now-defunct publications.

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