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Dove hunting in Texas is a unique tradition. On September 1 of every year, opening day signals the end of a long, hot summer, and the beginning of the hunting season. It’s the first chance Lone Star State sportsmen have to break out the camo, harvest wild game and enjoy the unique camaraderie you can only experience during a few short months in the fall.

TEXAS DOVE SEASON

  • North Zone: Early September thru late October, and mid-December thru early January.
  • Central Zone: Early September thru late October, and mid-December thru early January.
  • South Zone: Mid-September thru mid-October, and mid-December thru late January.
  • White-winged Area: Mid-September thru mid-October, and mid-December thru late January.

dove_zone_map

RANGE AND HABITAT

While there is a year-round population of locals, the majority of doves you’ll find during the season in Texas are migratory. On their way from their summer home in Canada to wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America, doves make frequent stops to feed and roost primarily in and around agricultural fields.

Plowed milo or sunflower fields surrounded by trees and featuring some sort of water source are ideal locations to intercept migrating doves. Typically a good dove field will only support two or three hunts before birds get wise, so don’t expect to hunt one spot all season long. Morning hunters should be in place and ready to shoot no later than 6:30 a.m., and ready to move to a new spot if birds don’t start flying within an hour or so after sun-up. Evening hunters are typically most successful right before dusk as birds start returning to their roosts.

WHERE TO HUNT

It’s hard to find a bad place to hunt dove in Texas, but these are the hotspots season after season:

Ranger >>>

Strawn >>>

Coleman >>>

San Angelo >>>

Hondo >>>

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DOVE HUNTING TIPS

  • Use a modified or improved-cylinder choke tube for a wider pattern.
  • Upsize your pellets to 4s, 5s or even 6s to knock down more birds at a distance.
  • Use a dog.
  • Exaggerate your lead.
  • Practice shooting from a seated position.
  • Focus on one bird in a group.
  • Use decoys.
  • Scout the field the night before to see where the water sources are and where the birds are roosting.
  • Don’t forget a plug if you’re using a semi-auto or pump shotgun.

RULES AND REGULATIONS

Be sure to review the Texas Parks and Wildlife’s guidelines before heading for dove country. Here are the highlights:

Daily Limit: 15 birds

Possession Limit: Three-times the daily bag limit

Shooting Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset

License Requirements: Valid hunting license, migratory game bird endorsement, HIP certification and proof of hunter education certification.

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Robert Jones
About the Author

Robert handles Gunn&Hook's content marketing and is an avid bass angler and fly fisherman. He typically works remotely from the river bank.