To start hunting season off with a bang, you have to be prepared
Whether it’s the pursuit of doves or deer, or preparation for duck season, the 10th month offers plenty of activities for hunters longing for the field, woods or blind. Cold fronts are starting to roll in, fall patterns are unfolding and things are beginning to feel like hunting season.
When it comes to doves, hunters targeting the highly sought-after migratory game birds on properties within the south zone can continue slinging lead through Oct. 30. Those spending time afield in the north and central zones can enjoy chasing the gray birds through Nov. 4.
Dove hunting is one of those sports that develops a lot of hype around opening day. After a week or two, though, many hunters are done for the year. This leaves some excellent hunting for those willing to give it a shot during October.
With fronts arriving frequently, more birds are pushed down into the Lone Star State as the season wears on. Some of the best dove hunts I’ve ever experienced have taken place in mid- to late October in the southern part of our state. These hunts were the result of very little hunting pressure on large numbers of birds.
October dove hunters should focus on areas adjacent to locations that received immense hunting pressure during September. Fields containing standing crops like milo or sunflowers can be outstanding. Naturally occurring seed-bearing crops like croton and ragweed, found in many areas of Texas, also will attract hordes of birds.
Don’t forget, dove season reopens in December in all three zones and runs through mid- to late January, depending on the zone.
Archery season for white-tailed deer kicked off Sept. 29. Bow hunters must seal the deal on a close encounter with an elusive buck and have a lot of variables go in their favor. Being fully prepared is essential.
One of the most important concepts for archers is the transition from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to the serenity of the woods. It’s extremely hard to go straight from the office to the bow stand and experience pure success. Stealthily entering a hunting area and concealing your presence from a mature deer is the result of a meticulous process.
Bow hunters should always wash the clothes and gear they’ll don in their stands with some sort of scent-eliminating detergent. They should store this clothing and gear in a scent-free and scent-contained bag or tote. Archers should remove these clothes and gear from their scent-shielding chamber only when they’re getting dressed in the field, before entering a stand or blind.
Bow hunters also should try to hunt set-ups that put the wind blowing into their faces. When approaching a hunting area, this also is important. Try to avoid taking paths that lead to a stand from an upwind location. Keep the wind oriented head on when walking into the woods.
Duck hunters are anxiously awaiting opening day, which will occur in the south zone Nov. 3 and in the north zone Nov 10. Now’s the time to make last-minute gear preparations and do some scouting.
One of the best ways to scout an area is to examine satellite images on Google Earth. This will help reveal features such as nearby ponds that might attract more ducks, safe routes of travel and important details about the terrain.
Hunting seasons are underway, and there’s a whole lot more in store. Get out in the field or in the sticks and start this season off with a bang.
For more information and details about hunting season dates for specific species, visit tpwd.texas.gov.