Texas Hunting Archives - Texoma Connect

Quail Season Opens Today in Texas

Texas Quail

Texas QuailWith quail hunting season opening Saturday, Oct. 26 statewide, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife biologists predict average to above-average prospects across most of the state.

“Habitat and weather can cause dramatic shifts in bobwhite and scaled quail populations from one year to the next,” said Robert Perez, quail program leader for TPWD. “Although last year’s quail season was not very productive, quail have an uncanny ability to quickly bounce back when conditions are good. Thanks to favorable weather conditions earlier this year, hunters can look forward to productive quail hunting across most of the state this season.”

For the core quail range in Texas, this year’s El Nino weather pattern translated to above average rainfall and below average temperatures, resulting in an above average bobwhite quail season in most of South Texas, average to slightly above average scaled quail season for the Trans Pecos region, and good prospects for scaled quail and bobwhite in the Panhandle above Interstate 40.

“Favorable weather conditions spurred calling and pair formation in the majority of South Texas counties, and land manager and staff reports suggest an average to above average season,” Perez said. “Scaled quail in the Trans Pecos also look better than average, so it’s a good year to put on some tennis shoes and chase this elusive game bird.”

In the Rolling Plains, field reports indicate a very active roosting calling period in the spring and pairs spotted throughout the summer. Quality habitat across the region provides plenty of nesting and brooding cover and plants like dove weed and ragweed provide chicks with the protein-packed insects they need.

“The Rolling Plains appears to be up from last year but still below average, although our surveys may have underestimated the population due to dense roadside vegetation and extreme heat, which may have influenced habitat use,” Perez said. “Overall, the Rolling Plains has the potential to have an average year. And an average year in Texas is better than just about anywhere else in the country.”

TPWD projections are based on annual statewide quail surveys that were initiated in 1978 to monitor quail populations. This index uses randomly selected, 20-mile roadside survey lines to determine annual quail population trends by ecological region. This trend information helps determine relative quail populations among the regions of Texas.

Comparisons can be made between the mean (average) number of quail observed per route this year and the 15-year mean for quail seen within an ecological region. The quail survey was not designed to predict relative abundance for any area smaller than the ecological region.

A regional breakdown of this year’s TPWD quail index survey, including highlights and prospects, is available online.

Quail hunting season runs through Feb. 23, 2020. The daily bag limit for quail is 15, with 45 in possession. Legal shooting hours for all non-migratory game birds are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. The bag limit is the maximum number that may be killed during the legal shooting hours in one day.

Hunters can find public quail hunting opportunities at several wildlife management areas located within the core quail range, including Elephant MountainBlack GapGene HoweMatadorChaparral and James E. Daughtry. Additionally, hunters can search for quail hunting opportunities on public and leased land with an Annual Public Hunting Permit here.

Hunters who want the convenience of purchasing a license online can do so securely from the official Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s license site. Access it directly from the department’s website, visit www.txfgsales.com, or text TPWD LICENSE to 468-311 to receive a link.

Hunters can also purchase a license in person at sporting goods stores and other retailers or by calling the TPWD License Section at 1-800-895-4248.

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Texas Hunters Brace for Hot Teal Season Opener

Teal Season Opening Day

Texas Parks and Wildlife | Austin Texas

This year’s early teal hunting season is expected to be a hot one, both in terms of temperature and prospects. Extended forecasts for Saturday’s opener indicate waves of blue-winged teal headed for Texas, along with daytime highs in the mid to upper 90s.

The 16-day statewide early teal and Eastern Zone Canada goose season in Texas will run Saturday, Sept. 14 through Sunday, Sept. 29. The daily bag on teal is six, with a possession limit of 18. Bag limit for Canada geese will be five and a possession limit of 15 in the Eastern Zone only.

“Literally millions of teal are heading our way and growing numbers are already being reported across the state,” said Kevin Kraai, waterfowl program leader with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “It is looking like the timing of this year’s teal season may be another encouraging point considering the full harvest moon will be on Friday, the day before the season opener. That will trigger mass migration of teal out of the Dakotas.”

While the stars may be aligning for what could be a bountiful teal season, the extended dry weather across much of the state could be a concern. Kraai indicated a lack of water now following the wet spring and early summer that hit much of the eastern half of Texas isn’t necessarily a detriment to hunting.

“Seems we are always in a pattern of too much or too little rainfall here in Texas,” he said. “We have definitely entered a dry spell over the last couple of months, which is not necessarily a terrible thing for many parts of Texas. Typically, when there is less water spread out across the landscape it concentrates birds in areas where hunters tend to be waiting.”

The extremely wet spring and summer in eastern Texas had rivers in flood and lakes way above conservation pool. This unfortunately will impact the amount of terrestrial seed producing vegetation that generates the high energy foods that teal will be seeking. The upper ends of these reservoirs will still be a great place to check for migrating teal despite high waters earlier in the year. Submerged aquatic vegetation should be growing rapidly this time of year and aquatic bugs, essential to migrating and molting teal, will be flourishing in those locations.

As for conditions and prospects for teal season around the state, TPWD waterfowl biologists report:

•             The Gulf Coast is drying out quick but freshwater flows into the bay systems have sparked an above average amount of submerged aquatic vegetation currently growing in places that are typically much more saline.  Marsh complexes up and down the coast should see an increase in teal use this fall.

•             Further inland in the agricultural areas of the Gulf Coast there are a lot of people prepping for the wave of teal coming our way. Pumps are running night and day and canals are open and flowing. These folks will most certainly see incredible teal concentrations enjoying the tables that they set for them.

•             Much like the rest of the state the High Plains playas received substantial rainfall this spring and summer. Very high temperatures and strong dry winds have really wreaked havoc on the standing water across much of the Panhandle the last couple of months. There are still some locations with clusters of wet playas, but they are receding fast. Definitely going to need some replenishing rains soon to carry this important waterfowl area into the winter.

Hunters are reminded to purchase their 2019-20 hunting license before heading afield, available online at www.tpwd.texas.gov/buy, at license retailers or by phone at (800) 895-4248. The online transaction system is available 24/7. Call center hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is a required $5 administrative fee for each phone or online transaction, but unlimited items can be purchased during a single transaction for this $5 fee.

New this year are enhancements to make the licensing process simpler and faster. “Expedited checkout” speeds the process of re-purchasing the same license items bought during the previous three years. TPWD has also made it easier to show proof-of-license. Now hunters and anglers can use an electronic image of their license as proof-of-license and show/display it in any of these ways: (1) an electronic photo of your license, (2) an emailed receipt, (3) via your account within the license point-of-sale system, the Outdoor Annual App or the My Texas Hunt Harvest App (for hunters). You still must have your physical license for any activities requiring tags and the physical federal duck stamp for waterfowl hunting.

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Texas Dove Season looks bright for season opener Sept 1

Dove hunt

AUSTIN — Though Hurricane Harvey caused a significant drop in dove hunter effort and harvest numbers last year, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department expects the 2018-19 season to be back to normal. In Texas terms, normal means exceptional.

Opening day of dove hunting is Saturday, Sept. 1 statewide. For the third consecutive year, Texas dove hunters can look forward to a liberal 90-day season and 15-bird daily bag limits.  In addition, hunters in Texas’ South Dove Zone have the opportunity to hunt every weekend in September thanks to the Special White-winged Dove Days Sept. 1, 2, 8, and 9, combined with a Sept. 14 zone opener, the earliest in half a century.  Though hunting hours are limited to afternoons during the Special White-winged Dove Days (noon-sunset), hunters in the southern portion of the state are now able to take advantage of the earlier dates in which the majority of dove harvest in Texas occurs.

Over 300,000 Texas hunters harvest nearly one third of the mourning doves taken nationwide each year, far more than any other state.  In recent years, an estimated 10 million doves are harvested in Texas annually.  While Texas supports breeding populations of over 34 million mourning and 10 million white-winged doves, those numbers swell during the fall when birds from northern latitudes funnel south.

“Texas is uniquely situated to catch a lot of migratory birds as they move through the central part of the continent.  Couple that with the fact that we are such a big state with diverse habitats, and it makes sense that we have such large numbers of doves,” said Owen Fitzsimmons, TPWD Dove Program Leader.

“Despite the dry conditions this summer, we had excellent production very early in the spring thanks to a mild winter and good rains in February and March, so there are a lot of birds around,” Fitzsimmons said.  “Unless we get significant rain in the next couple of weeks, hunters really need to key in on areas with water.  That’s where the birds will be concentrated.”

White-winged doves were historically found in the lower Rio Grande Valley, but they have rapidly expanded in numbers and distribution across Texas in recent years.  According to Fitzsimmons, white-wing populations continue to grow and are making up a larger percentage of daily bag limits state-wide.  White-wings are now found mostly in and around urban areas, providing hunting opportunity for those hunting just outside major cities and urban centers.

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 general season in the South Zone, the aggregate bag limit is 15 with no more than two white-tipped doves.

Hunters are reminded that licenses went on sale Aug. 15 for the 2018-19 hunting seasons and can be purchased through the agency’s 28 law enforcement field offices, at more than 50 state parks and over 1,700 retailers across the state. Licenses may also be purchased online through the TPWD website or by phone at (800) 895-4248. Call center hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and there is a required $5 administrative fee for each phone or online transaction. The online transaction system is available 24/7.

Hunting and fishing regulations for the new season are available in the Outdoor Annual in print, online and on the Outdoor Annual mobile app. A limited number of Outdoor Annual booklets can be picked up at any of the 1,700 license retailers. A Spanish language version is also available online.

To get more information on Texas hunting and fishing throughout the year, sign up for free email updates at www.tpwd.texas.gov/email or by texting TPWD HUNT or TPWD FISH and your email address to 468-311 (ex. TPWD HUNT myemail@emailaddress.com).

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.

2018-19 Dove Season Calendar

North Zone: Sept. 1 – Nov. 4 and Dec. 21-Jan. 14, 2019.

Central Zone: Sept. 1 – Nov. 4 and Dec. 21-Jan. 14, 2019.

Special White-winged Dove Days (entire South Zone): Sept. 1-2, 8-9.

South Zone: Sept. 14 – Oct. 30 and Dec. 14 – Jan. 21, 2019.

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