Dove hunting in Texas is a beloved pastime for many hunting enthusiasts. Texas is known for its abundant dove population, making it one of the best states in the country for dove hunting. This outdoor activity is not only a great way to enjoy the beautiful Texas landscape but also a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Dove hunting in Texas typically takes place during the fall season, starting in September and lasting through November. During this time, millions of doves migrate south through Texas, providing hunters with ample opportunities to bag their limit. Whether you are a seasoned hunter or a novice, dove hunting in Texas offers a thrilling and exciting experience.
We’ll explore the different types of doves found in Texas, the hunting regulations and requirements, hunting strategies and tips, and the equipment needed for a successful dove hunt. So, if you’re a hunting enthusiast looking to take part in this timeless Texas tradition, read on to learn more about dove hunting in the Lone Star State.
What Species of Dove Are Found in Texas?
There are several types of doves found in Texas, but the two most commonly hunted species are the mourning dove and the white-winged dove. The mourning dove is a medium-sized bird with a tan or grayish-brown body and a small head. They have long, pointed wings and a distinctive black spot on their throat. Mourning doves are found throughout Texas and are known for their fast and erratic flight patterns, which can make them challenging targets for hunters.
The white-winged dove is slightly larger than the mourning dove and has a white band on its wings that is visible during flight. They are found primarily in the southern regions of Texas and are known for their swift and direct flight. The white-winged dove population has increased significantly in recent years, and they are now one of the most sought-after game birds in Texas.
Both species of doves are migratory birds, with populations moving through Texas during their fall migration. As such, dove hunting in Texas is typically only allowed during specific seasons and with appropriate licenses and permits.
Hunting Regulations and Requirement for Texas Dove Hunting
Hunting regulations and requirements for dove hunting in Texas are set by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). It is important to adhere to these regulations to ensure the sustainability of dove populations and to avoid any legal issues while hunting. Some of the regulations and requirements for dove hunting in Texas include:
- Hunting License: All hunters must have a valid Texas hunting license to hunt doves. Texas residents and non-residents must purchase their hunting license before heading out to hunt.
- Migratory Game Bird Stamp: Hunters must also have a valid Migratory Game Bird Stamp, which is available for purchase with a hunting license. This stamp helps fund migratory bird research, management, and conservation.
- Bag Limits: Bag limits specify the number of birds a hunter is allowed to take in a day. The bag limit for mourning doves is 15 birds per day, while the bag limit for white-winged doves is 15 in the aggregate (meaning hunters can take up to 15 white-winged doves and/or white-tipped doves per day).
- Hunting Season: Dove hunting season in Texas is typically from September through November. However, the exact dates may vary depending on the region and species being hunted.
- Hunting Hours: Hunting is only allowed during specific hours, which are generally from 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
- Hunting Methods: Hunters can use shotguns and legal ammunition to hunt doves. It is illegal to use traps, snares, nets, or any other device to take doves.
- Hunter Education: All hunters born after September 2, 1971, must complete a TPWD-approved hunter education course before hunting in Texas.
These regulations and requirements may vary depending on the specific location and type of dove being hunted, so it is important to check with the TPWD for current and accurate information before heading out to hunt.
Strategies for Texas Dove Hunting
- Scouting: Scouting the area where you plan to hunt is essential to locating the best spots for dove hunting. Look for areas where doves are feeding, roosting, or watering, such as fields, water sources, or trees.
- Concealment: Doves have excellent eyesight and are easily spooked. It is crucial to conceal yourself and your hunting gear to avoid detection. Wear camouflage clothing and use natural cover like trees, bushes, or blinds to remain hidden.
- Decoys: Using decoys can attract doves to your hunting location. Use decoys that mimic the size and appearance of live doves, and place them in a visible location.
- Shot Placement: Doves are small, fast-moving targets, so accuracy is critical. Aim for the head or upper body to ensure a clean kill.
- Shooting Techniques: Be patient and wait for the right shot. Try to anticipate the dove’s flight path and lead your shot accordingly. Use the swing-through or sustained-lead shooting techniques for best results.
- Safety: Always practice safe hunting techniques, including proper gun handling, target identification, and communication with other hunters.
- Bring Essentials: Bring plenty of water, snacks, and insect repellent to stay comfortable during the hunt. Don’t forget to bring a cooler to store your harvested doves.
By following these strategies and tips, hunters can increase their chances of success while also ensuring a safe and enjoyable hunting experience.
Equipment Needed to Hunt Doves in Texas
To hunt dove in Texas, you will need the following equipment:
- Hunting License and Migratory Game Bird Stamp: As mentioned earlier, you must have a valid Texas hunting license and migratory game bird stamp to hunt dove in Texas.
- Shotgun: A shotgun is the most common firearm used for dove hunting. A 20 or 12-gauge shotgun is suitable for hunting doves.
- Ammunition: You will need to use non-toxic shot while hunting doves. Shot sizes of 6, 7.5, or 8 are typically used for dove hunting.
- Camouflage Clothing: Wear lightweight, breathable, and comfortable camouflage clothing that blends well with the surroundings.
- Hunting Boots: Comfortable, waterproof boots with good traction are essential for traversing different types of terrain.
- Shooting Glasses and Hearing Protection: Safety should always be a top priority while hunting. Wear shooting glasses and hearing protection to protect your eyes and ears.
- Decoys: Using decoys can attract doves to your hunting location. It’s a good idea to have at least a few dove decoys.
- Cooler: A cooler with ice packs is necessary to keep the harvested doves fresh until you get home.
- Water and Snacks: Hunting can be a tiring and dehydrating activity. Bring plenty of water and snacks to stay hydrated and energized.
- Insect Repellent: Texas is known for its bugs, especially during the warmer months. Bring insect repellent to avoid mosquito bites and other insect-related discomforts.
By having the right equipment, you’ll be prepared for a successful and enjoyable dove hunting experience in Texas.
Dove Hunting Outfitters in Texas
There are several reputable dove hunting outfitters in Texas. Here are some of the best dove hunting outfitters in Texas:
- Independence Ranch – Located in South Texas, Independence Ranch offers guided dove hunting trips on over 3,000 acres of prime dove hunting habitat.
- Joshua Creek Ranch – This hunting lodge is situated in the Texas Hill Country and offers world-class dove hunting trips. They have experienced guides, well-trained dogs, and plenty of doves for hunting.
- Buck and Boar Hunting Ranch – Located in Central Texas, Buck and Boar Hunting Ranch offers guided dove hunting trips on over 4,000 acres of hunting land. They also offer lodging and dining options for a complete hunting experience.
- KJ Ranch – KJ Ranch is situated in South Texas and is known for its exceptional dove hunting opportunities. They have well-managed fields and knowledgeable guides to ensure a successful hunt.
- G2 Ranch – This hunting ranch is located in West Texas and offers both guided and self-guided dove hunting trips. They have a variety of fields and water sources to attract doves, making for an exciting hunting experience.
These outfitters offer a range of services, from fully guided hunts to self-guided hunts, and have experienced guides and well-maintained hunting grounds. Be sure to research the different outfitters and choose the one that best fits your needs and budget.
The Cost of Hunting Doves in Texas Through an Outfitter
The cost of dove hunting through an outfitter in Texas can vary depending on several factors, such as the location, amenities provided, and the length of the hunting trip. Generally, a fully guided dove hunting trip with an outfitter can cost between $150 to $300 per day per person. This cost may include lodging, meals, and transportation to and from the hunting grounds.
Some outfitters may offer additional amenities such as cleaning and packaging of the harvested birds, bird processing facilities, and on-site bird dog training services, which may increase the cost of the hunting trip.
It’s essential to do your research and compare prices and services offered by different outfitters to find one that suits your needs and budget. Additionally, be sure to inquire about any hidden costs, such as hunting license fees, bird cleaning fees, or gratuities for the guides.
While dove hunting in Texas is nothing like hunting them in a place like Argentina, it does offer a great chance to see a large population of birds and get your wing shooting fix. Even though the bag limit is far more limited, you can still get off plenty of shots at trying to bag a challenging and intelligent bird.