Dove hunting season is set to begin in Williamson County, Texas, on Friday, September 1, at sunrise, unleashing a deeply-rooted tradition that spans generations. Local Texas game warden, Justin Barnes, nostalgically expressed, “I’ve been doing it ever since I was a kid.” Enthusiastic hunters in Texas can embark on their expeditions 30 minutes prior to sunrise, anticipating a dawn symphony of gunshots resounding through the landscapes. Barnes elaborates, “Keep in mind that September 1, right at sunrise, depending on where you live, how close you are to the country, I mean, expect to hear a lot of gunshots.”
In light of this season, hunters in Texas are poised to take aim at abundant bird populations, surpassing previous years. Barnes optimistically acknowledges, “Numbers are good this year. There’s been an increase, so hopefully everyone is successful this year.” Reports received from Texas Parks and Wildlife substantiate this claim, revealing a soaring population of mourning doves, which now totals a staggering 28.3 million, representing a substantial 44 percent surge from the previous year. Barnes reflects, “I know last year and the year before numbers were a little bit, I guess, less. In the surveys, I know we had that big freeze. I don’t know if that played a part in it.”
Before embarking on their hunting expeditions, Texas Game Wardens strongly advise hunters to diligently check their paperwork. Barnes emphasizes one common pitfall encountered: “The most common thing we’re going to run into is folks not having their hunter’s education course that teaches you about hunter safety.” Ensuring compliance, legitimate hunters must possess a valid license, migratory game bird endorsement, and HIP certification, which stands for Harvest Information Program, aimed at ascertaining the number of doves each hunter shot in the previous season. Furthermore, hunters bear the responsibility of maintaining a safe shooting environment, one devoid of endangering neighboring properties or individuals. Barnes cautions, “We oftentimes deal with people that are hunting too close to other properties. Their bb’s are shot and will travel across those property lines and impact other people’s houses and things like that. Be cognizant of where you’re shooting, be cognizant of the people around you, always be aware of who’s with you, and safety is our biggest priority.”
Set to span from September 1 to October 29, the dove hunting season provides extended opportunities for hunters. After a brief intermission, the season reconvenes on December 15, continuing until January 14. Hunters must cease shooting at sunset daily, adhering to ethical practices. This highly anticipated hunting season is poised to captivate enthusiasts across Williamson County, offering moments of solace and precious memories amidst nature’s harmonious chorus.