No matter what the thermometer says, autumn hunting seasons are here
It’s finally here — fall has arrived. The weather might feel a lot more like summertime than autumn, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get excited about the commencement of fall hunting seasons.
Wing shooters get to take aim first, with dove and early teal seasons open this month. Both are a blast.
One change dove hunters will want to pay attention to this year is that more special white-winged dove days have been allocated in the South Zone than ever before. In the past, these days occurred in pairs and were limited to Saturdays and Sundays. This year, each weekend also includes Fridays, so there’s even more opportunity for folks to make some memories outdoors.
Special white-winged dove days in the South Zone are Sept. 3-5 and Sept. 10-12. The South Zone regular fall season is open Sept. 14 to Oct. 31.
North and Central Zone dove hunters can start slinging lead Sept. 1. The North Zone fall season runs Sept. 1 to Nov. 12, while the Central Zone fall season runs Sept. 1 to Oct. 31.
Perhaps the best part about dove hunting is it’s like a social event. It’s always more fun to hunt dove with a group of family and friends. You don’t have to be ultra-stealthy to have a successful dove hunt, and it’s one of the most affordable hunting opportunities available to Texans.
With much of the state fairly wet, hunters might find the birds spread out a little more this year. Most tanks and ponds are full, so the dove can find a place to drink just about anywhere. The best hunts likely will take place over harvested fields of milo, sunflowers and corn.
Before you head to the field with a shotgun and a box of shells, there are a few gear items you’ll want to ensure you have. A comfortable chair or stool that allows you plenty of mobility to safely fire a shotgun from a seated position is a must. You’ll also want a vest or a belt to carry shotgun shells and harvested birds.
I also recommend getting a Mojo dove decoy or two. These spinning wing decoys are inexpensive, and they typically bring the birds in close for easy shot opportunities. I like to set a couple of Mojos about 20 yards in front of me. Often, the birds will swoop in and try to land on the ground right by the decoys.
Early-season teal hunts can offer some of the most exciting wing shooting of the year. Blue-winged teal are the first ducks to migrate to southern locales for the winter. Our coastal marshes and prairies are typically chock-full of them when the season begins.
I’ve been on teal hunts lasting only 15 minutes because limits were harvested that quickly. When the birds are thick, it doesn’t take long, and the decoying action can be nonstop.
One thing you can bet on is this — if you’re going on an early teal hunt, you’ll encounter swarms of mosquitoes. Make sure to pack insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants. There’s nothing more frustrating than swatting at the flying pests just as a flight of teal begin to work over the decoys.
One appealing aspect about early teal hunts is the weather is usually mild to warm. Unlike the regular duck season, which can be frigid, early teal season doesn’t require hunters to layer on the gear.
This year, the early teal season is open Sept. 11-26. Some of the best hunting occurs within a short drive of the Galveston and Houston areas, along coastal rice prairies near Wharton, Eagle Lake, El Campo and Garwood. Flooded rice fields and ponds managed for ducks will be covered with teal come opening day.
One of the best ways to take advantage of the outdoor opportunities during September is to plan a trip in which you hunt teal and doves the same day. Teal hunts take place early in the morning, and some of the best dove hunting occurs during the early evening hours. Chasing teal and dove the same day can challenge your shotgunning skills and provide some excellent memories.
Whether you’re dove hunting or teal hunting this month, the most important thing to remember is safety. Take some friends or the kids, or better yet, take the whole family. Loads of excitement are to be had as this special time of year kicks into full gear.
Sweet September is here, and it’s about time.