Dove and teal hunting seasons are soon to take flight
Fall hunting seasons have finally arrived. If you’re a hunter, no sweeter words have been read or spoken over the past several months.
Wing shooters will get first dibs at the action as dove seasons and the early teal season kick off in September. With the overlapping of these seasons, shotgunners have the opportunity to sharpen and challenge their wing-shooting abilities in a variety of scenarios, not to mention, harvesting both doves and teal in the same day.
Although the two migratory game birds are drastically different, doves and teal possess a lot of similar qualities. For one, they can zip through the air extremely fast, buzzing around and darting like a freshly hatched batch of mosquitoes.
Another trait they have in common is they are often attracted to motion decoys. Spinning wing decoys like the Mojo Voodoo Dove or the Mojo Teal work well to bring in the birds for some in-your-face shot opportunities. The flashing illusion the rapidly spinning wings of these robotic decoys produce catches the eyes of both teal and doves and draws them in like a magnet.
Sometimes, the birds will even try to land directly on the decoys when they’re locked into the motion of the wings.
Water and crops become the center of activity for doves and teal. Ponds in and around agricultural fields and production can produce great shoots for both species, even in the same 24-hour period.
Teal are typically active during the first couple of hours of the morning over ponds and small bodies of water, while doves visit local watering holes in the afternoon and evening to catch a drink before heading to their roosts.
If it’s in the right area, a single pond can become a honey hole for both migratory game birds and provide excellent hunts for blue-winged and green-winged teal in the mornings, and mourning-dove and white-wings later in the day.
Just west of Houston, and only a short drive from the upper Texas coast, ponds and flooded fields along the coastal rice prairies around Wharton, Eagle Lake, Garwood and El Campo offer phenomenal wing shooting opportunities for both teal and doves.
Teal hunts over rice ponds can result in some-barn burner shoots, with limits harvested in a matter of mere minutes when the birds are thick. White-winged doves also have become fairly prominent in these areas, along with mourning doves, and afternoon hunts in fields near ponds and other water sources can provide steady action.
South Texas is home to some premier dove hunting grounds for those up for making the drive and seeing a different part of the state. Agricultural production and farming operations around small towns such as Dilley and Pearsall attract thousands of birds each year.
One outfit that provides its hunters access to some incredible dove fields down south is Dilley Dove. I’ve enjoyed some downright remarkable shoots for both mourning doves and white-wings in some of their milo fields over the years.
Marshes along the upper Texas coast long have been known as a stopping point for migrating teal during September. Hunters with access to shallow-running boats, and who are willing to do a little scouting, can cash in on some excellent hunts along these stretches of public land.
Speaking of public land, the Lone Star State has more than 1 million acres of public land available for hunters that’s provided through the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s Public Hunting Program. Hunters can gain access to these grounds by purchasing a $48 annual public hunting permit in addition to their hunting license. Visit tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/public for information on public land hunting.
There are several Wildlife Management Areas and public leases on or near the upper Texas Coast to which a public hunting permit will provide access. Outside of the opening day or opening weekends for both teal and dove seasons, much of these areas remain untapped and untouched for those willing to give them a try.
With the opening of dove and early teal seasons comes the opportunity for bird dogs and retrievers to get back to doing what they do best. Mild conditions also make both sports something that anyone can enjoy without the need for expensive gear to withstand extreme elements.
Gather the family or some friends, load up the gun dog, and partake in the traditions that so many have been longing for since the closing of the previous season. That special time of year has commenced, and it will pass far too quickly.
Dove season dates
North Zone: Sept. 1 to Nov. 12, 2019 and Dec. 20, 2019 to Jan. 5, 2020
Central Zone: Sept. 1 to Nov. 3, 2019 and Dec. 20, 2019 to Jan. 14, 2020
South Zone: Sept. 14 to Nov. 3, 2019 and Dec. 20, 2019 to Jan. 23, 2020
Special white-winged dove days: Sept. 1, 2, 7, 8, 2019
Early teal season dates: Sept. 14-29, 2019
Refer to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Outdoor Annual for additional information on season dates and bag limits.