Dove hunting is a big deal in Texas. We’ve got a number of dove species found across the state, but the most widely known species by hunters are mourning and white-winged doves. I always look forward to dove hunting season, and not just because it is the first a long line of Texas hunting seasons. September 1 is always looked upon favorably, even if it’s just a fair opening day.
Texas is home to lots of doves. Lots! Wildlife officials estimate Texas has a resident mourning dove breeding population of about 50 million birds. That is significantly more than any other state and about 18 percent of the nation’s total mourning dove population of 275 million.
The numbers increase substantially once the millions of migrant mourning doves from northern states that pass through Texas each fall, and a rapidly expanding white-winged dove population that has exploded to well over 10 million over the last decade or so. All those birds make for good dove hunting, which makes for a large dove harvest.
Last hunting season was great one according to harvest figures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In summary, 300,000 Texas dove hunters shot more than 5.5 million mourning doves and nearly 2 million white-winged doves during the 2014-15 season. Fire up the grill. That’s a lot of bacon and jalepenos.
The banner harvest, up significantly from 2013, came largely as the result of optimum nesting conditions that put big numbers of young birds in the field ahead of the 2014 season opener. Wildlife officials are saying the upcoming dove hunting season may be just as good as last year thanks to abundant spring and summer rainfall that created banner nesting conditions for doves and left behind optimum habitat ripe with good dove forage.
No matter which corner of Texas you dove hunt, expect birds to be in good numbers. If you have food for our winged friends in the form of shredded sunflowers or waste grain in harvested ag fields, then expect great dove hunting. Good luck!