To lease or not to lease

Dove and teal seasons are fast approaching with the Sept. 1 opener in the Centra

Opening day of the Central Zone dove season is Sept. 1, followed up by the Sept. 12 teal season and the South Zone dove opener Sept. 18. It’ll all be happening before you know it, and that’s why now – as in today – is a good time to start getting everything together.

Dove season is a big time event for thousands of hunters across Texas. There are several reasons for the popularity of dove hunts. One is that it’s easy access with lots of shooting that’s capped off with a 15-bird daily bag limit. Even though it’s hot, the hunts are fun for the entire family, even the dog.

Getting in on a good dove hunt is not always a sure-fire deal. One option is to find a lease. Some of the best dove hunting land here in Southeast Texas can be found between Beaumont and Winnie. If you’ll drive some of the back roads, you’ll often see signs for dove leases or day hunts. You might also try getting online and do a search for Southeast Texas dove hunts.

Some of my best experiences have been on day hunts for doves, as opposed to leases. Too often I’ve leased land that was full of doves one day and empty for the rest of the season. That’s why I think the best option is to hook up with a guide for a day hunt on land that’s got doves right now. You can do that and get in on four or five good hunts, probably for the same amount of money that you would spend on a lease.

One outfitter you might call is Jim West. He’ll be running Central Zone hunts near Winnie beginning Sept. 1. He can be reached at (409) 996-3054. I’ve hunted with West out in that area numerous times and had plenty of shooting every time. His hunts run from $80 to $100 per gun. Opening day and weekend hunts are usually $100. That’s about the going price per gun for a dove hunt just about anywhere in Texas.

Finding a place to teal hunt is simply a matter of getting online and searching for day-hunt teal outfitters. There are usually several of them here in Southeast Texas. Our teal season is going to be 16 days with a six-bird daily bag limit. It’ll be Sunday, Sept. 12, through Sunday, Sept. 27.

Gearing up for dove and teal hunts is not too complex. Basically it involves loading up with your favorite shotgun shells, having comfortable and cool camo, and packing along bug spray and plenty of water.

Don’t forget the decoys – they work better than you might think. The battery-powered, spinning-wing decoys definitely work. Two or three decoys placed in a spread of floaters will draw teal like there is no tomorrow. Ditto that for dove. Get two or three of these bird magnets and you’ll see what I mean.

Don’t forget that licenses go on sale Aug. 15 for the 2015-16 hunting seasons and can be purchased through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s 28 field offices, more than 50 state parks and at over 1,700 retailers across the state. Licenses may also be purchased online through the TPWD website at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/buy or by phone at (800) 895-4248. Call center hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., and there is a $5 administrative fee for each phone or online transaction. The online transaction system is available 24/7. For online and phone orders, a physical license will be mailed within three business days. During that time period, a transaction receipt will be provided via e-mail that will be sufficient proof of hunting license and required endorsements that can be used for dove hunting.

Hunting and fishing regulations for the new season can be found in the 2015-16 Outdoor Annual, available at license retailers beginning Aug. 15, online at www.txoutdoorannual.com and via the free Outdoor Annual mobile app available for Apple and Android devices.

In addition to a hunting license, anyone born after Sept. 1, 1971, must successfully complete a hunter education training course or purchase a one-time deferral good for one license year in order to hunt legally in Texas. The certification is valid for life and is honored in all other states and provinces. More information on hunter education certification is available online at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/outdoor-learning/hunter-education.

A Migratory Game Bird endorsement and Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification are also required to hunt dove or teal in September. HIP certification involves a brief survey of the previous year’s migratory bird hunting success and is conducted at the time licenses are purchased. Duck hunters also need to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp.

Migratory game bird on meeting Aug. 20

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department invites the local community to attend a public meeting providing information related to the upcoming Migratory Game Bird hunting season. Updates on public hunting access within the Upper Coast WMAs and information on the rules and regulations of leased lands will be covered. The public meeting will be held on Thursday, Aug. 20, from 6-8 p.m. at the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area Check Station located at 10 Parks and Wildlife Drive in Port Arthur, on the south side of Highway 73 near its intersection with Jade Avenue.

All interested parties are encouraged to attend this public informational meeting. Additional information regarding public hunting opportunity on TPWD-owned lands is available at www.tpwd.state.tx.us or by contacting J.D. Murphree WMA at (409) 736-2551.

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