AUSTIN — September marks the start of dove season for more than 300,000 Texas hunters per year. While 2020 surveys of dove populations were cancelled due to ongoing public health concerns, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) estimates promising hunting conditions ahead of the start of the season.
With a breeding population of about 25 million mourning doves and up to 15 million white-winged doves in Texas, conditions are ripe for a fruitful season. Dove population numbers swell during the hunting season as doves migrate into Texas from other areas in the flyway. With favorable habitat conditions throughout much of the state leading into September, hunters can look forward to a favorable season.
Above average rainfall statewide throughout the spring season has led to prime habitat conditions during the peak nesting months of May and June. Biologists suggest that dry conditions in the northern and western regions of the state may help concentrate birds around food and water sources during the season. Portions of south Texas and the Rio Grande Valley received significant rainfall during Hurricane Hanna but it’s unclear if, or to what degree, these rains will have an affect on doves come September.
“It’s hard to say exactly how regional dove populations are affected by hurricanes and other extreme weather events,” says Owen Fitzsimmons, TPWD Dove Program Leader. “In this case, I anticipate minimal impacts to September hunting, but the extra rain could lead to better late-season habitat when food is often scarce. South Zone hunters should be ready for some potential late-season action.”
On the other hand, normal seasonal weather events like cold fronts can be instrumental for hunting success by kick-starting fall migration, Fitzsimmons says.
“Doves will concentrate in bigger fall flights ahead of the fronts, making for some excellent hunting opportunities,” said Fitzsimmons. “These