Many Texans celebrated Labor Day weekend marking the beginning of dove hunting season Sept. 1.
Dove hunting is huge in Texas, with a deep culture that spans generations. Each fall, more than 300,000 Texas hunters take to the field where they harvest nearly one third of all mourning doves taken nationwide each year — on average an estimated 10 million birds — far more than any other state. While those statistics may appear staggering, consider Texas supports breeding populations of over 34 million mourning and 10 million white-winged doves, and those numbers rise even higher during the fall when birds from northern latitudes funnel south.
In Celina and its extraterritorial jurisdiction, it may be tempting to find an open space for hunting, but the laws are clear on what’s allowed. Discharging a shotgun is only permissible on 10 or more acres and cannot be within: 1,000 feet of a park, playground, school, hospital or daycare; 600 feet from the property line of a residential subdivision / apartment complex; and within 150 feet of any occupied residence or building, regardless of where the structure is located other than a person’s own home or building.
Regardless of the compliance to the distance requirements, if any projectiles (birdshot) cross the property of, or land on the property of any of the stated locations, the person is in violation.
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, weather conditions are prime for the sport, and dove populations have thrived this year thanks to the amount and timing of spring rains across most of the state that kicked habitat into high gear.
The regular dove season in the North Zone runs Sept. 1-Nov. 12 and resumes Dec. 20-Jan.5, 2020. The regular season in the Central Zone is Sept. 1-Nov. 3, then resumes Dec. 20-Jan.14, 2020. The regular season in the South Zone is Sept. 14-Nov. 3 and Dec. 20-Jan. 23, 2020. The Special White-Winged Dove Days in the South Zone are Sept. 1-2 and 7-8.
During the early two weekends for the Special White-winged Dove Days (in the South Zone), hunting is allowed only from noon to sunset and the daily bag limit is 15 birds, to include not more than two mourning doves and two white-tipped doves. During the regular season in the South Zone, the aggregate bag limit is 15 with no more than two white-tipped doves.
Hunters are reminded that licenses are on sale now for the 2019-20 hunting seasons and can be purchased through the agency’s 28 law enforcement field offices, at state parks and over retailers across the state. Licenses may also be purchased online through the TPWD website or by phone at 800-895-4248.
New this year, enhancements have been made to make the licensing process simpler and faster. “Expedited checkout” speeds the process of re-purchasing the same license items bought most recently within the last three years. It’s also now easier to show proof-of-license. Now hunters can use a digital image of their license as proof-of-license for any hunting that doesn’t require a tag, like dove hunting. Accepted formats include: (1) a digital photo, (2) an emailed receipt, (3) within the Outdoor Annual app or the My Texas Hunt Harvest app, or 4) online purchase record.
In addition to a hunting license, anyone born after Sept. 1, 1971, must successfully complete a hunter education training course in order to hunt legally in Texas. The TPWD Hunter Education certification is valid for life and is honored in all other states and provinces. More information about hunter education is available online. If you misplace your certification you can print a replacement online at no cost.
A Migratory Game Bird endorsement and Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification are also required to hunt dove. HIP certification involves a brief survey of previous year’s migratory bird hunting success and is conducted at the time licenses are purchased.