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Dove season begins Sept. 1

More than 300,000 Texans are expected to participate in the 2020 dove hunting season, which begins Tuesday, Sept. 1, and runs through Nov. 1 in the Highland Lakes. A second season is Dec. 18 through Jan. 14, 2021.

With a breeding population of 25 million mourning doves and up to 15 million white-winged doves, “conditions are ripe for a fruitful season,” predicts the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Hunters can shoot up to 15 doves a day, with a mix of white-winged, mourning, and white-tipped, though only two can be white-tipped.

In current dry conditions, birds might concentrate in areas with plenty of food and water sources, such as wild sunflower fields and stock tanks. Later in the season, when temperatures cool, the dove population will increase as the birds migrate from the northern United States south through Texas.

“Doves will concentrate in bigger fall flights ahead of the fronts, making for some excellent hunting opportunities,” said Owen Fitzsimmons, the dove program leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “These groups will often feed heavily in one area for a few days before moving on. Hunters should look to take advantage of any fronts during the season.”

Dove hunters need to purchase a 2020-21 hunting license before heading out. Along with the license, dove hunters must have a migratory game bird endorsement and be Harvest Information Program-certified, which requires answering a few questions upon purchase of a license.

While most hunting in Texas is done on private property, people can take advantage of limited dove hunting opportunities on the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is allowing dove hunting Sept. 1-4 on 279 acres located at 405 CR 286 Spur in Williamson County, just outside of Liberty Hill.

Hunting hours are noon to sunset those four days. The refuge will issue a limited number of permits on a first-come-first-served basis at $20 per permit. Hunters can only use non-toxic shot such as steel or bismuth while hunting on the refuge.

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