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Robust dove season expected despite high heat

The white-wing dove population in Texas jumped 20 percent from 2022 to 2023, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department surveys. Adobe Stock image

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department predicts a spectacular 2023-24 dove season across the state due to the wet spring conditions in April, May, and June. It might be hot as blazes this summer, but come opening day on Sept. 1, doves are expected to fill the sky.

“This spring was about as perfect as it could be, with steady rains and cool weather,” said TPWD Dove Program Leader Owen Fitzsimmons in a media release. “Given the population increases this year and the excellent breeding season conditions that persisted through the first half of the summer, hunters should expect to see a lot more birds on the landscape this September.”

TPWD surveys earlier this year showed booming dove populations. An estimated 28.3 million mourning doves are expected to be residing in Texas in 2023, a 44 percent increase from 2022. The white-wing dove population also seems to have flown sky-high, jumping 20 percent from last year and tying the all-time record of an estimated 11.7 million birds.

Wetter springs typically mean better nesting habitat for doves, which mature and mill around by the fall hunting season. Highland Lakes hunters could see an above-average abundance of birds come September, but triple-digit temperatures might make for sweltering shooting conditions.

Fitzsimmons recommends posting up near water sources where birds congregate to beat the heat. Agricultural fields will likely remain viable dove-hunting spots, too.

Dogs could have a difficult time dealing with soaring temperatures, so it might be best to leave them at home or do your hunting in the cooler hours of the day.

“If this extreme heat persists, think twice about bringing your dog out in the early season,” Fitzsimmons said. “Temperatures this high can be dangerous for dogs, particularly when they’re excited and running hard after birds. If you do bring them, try to limit the hunts to early mornings or late evenings.”

Dove season runs Sept. 1-Oct. 29, 2023, and Dec. 15, 2023-Jan. 14, 2024, in the Highland Lakes region. Hunters will need a valid Texas hunting license, a migratory game bird endorsement, and a Harvest Information Program certification to hunt doves legally in the Lone Star State.

Dove hunting rules and regulations can be found here.

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