Texas gets 16-day teal season, 15-bird limit on doves

Dove hunters will have more opportunity earlier in the season with dates and bag

For many hunters here in Southeast Texas, September can’t get here fast enough. It marks the beginning of dove and teal seasons, and just recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set season dates and bag limits that you are going to like.

The USFWS approved a 70-day dove season and a 15-bird daily bag limit. And thanks to record numbers of teal, we will have a 16-day early teal season.

The traditional Sept. 1 dove season opening day in the North and Central Zones remains. The first segment in those zones will be five days longer than last season, closing Sunday, Oct. 25. The season will reopen Friday, Dec. 18, and run through Friday, Jan. 1, 2016 in the North and Central Zones.

In the South Zone, the first segment will be longer by two days compared to last year. The South Zone opens Friday, Sept. 18, and runs through Wednesday, Oct. 21. The second segment will run Friday, Dec. 18, through Friday, Jan. 22, 2016.

The Special White-winged Dove Area will be restricted to afternoon-only (noon to sunset) hunting the first two full September weekends, Sept. 5-6 and 12-13. Hunting in this area will reopen Friday, Sept. 18, and continue through Wednesday, Oct. 21, and then reopen Friday, Dec. 18, and run through Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. During the first two weekends, the daily bag limit is 15 birds, to include not more than two mourning doves and two white-tipped doves. Once the general season opens, the aggregate bag limit will be 15, with no more than two white-tipped doves.

“Duck hunters can anticipate improved conditions for the September early teal season as abundant rains have filled lakes and marshes for the first time in several years,” says TPWD’s Steve Lightfoot. “With record numbers of teal expected to make their way into Texas during the upcoming months, prospects should be good.”

The 16-day teal season will run Saturday, Sept. 12, through Sunday, Sept. 27. The daily bag on teal will be six.

“Blue-winged teal numbers are way above the minimum of 4.7 million needed for a 16-day season,” said Kevin Kraai, TPWD waterfowl program leader. “Conditions for teal across the state are excellent and hunters are urged to have their fingers crossed for a timely migration in the middle of September.”

Hunting and fishing licenses go on sale Aug. 15

Hunting and fishing licenses go on sale Aug. 15 for the 2015-16 hunting seasons and can be purchased through TPWD’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 required $5 administrative fee for each phone or online transactions. 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 for dove hunting, though it will not be allowed for the take of fish or wildlife that require a tag.

Don’t forget about hunter education

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.

TPWD is now accepting online applications for drawn hunts

Hunters can now start applying online for TPWD’s drawn hunts. Hunters can select from more than 35 hunt categories in 95 areas throughout the state, including hunts for whitetail, mule deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, exotics, turkey, alligator and more.

The system is currently accepting applications for 2015-16 Drawn Hunts, including special permit hunts, E-postcard hunts, and U.S. Forest Service antlerless deer permits. For the second year, the entire process is handled electronically — from applications, to fee payments and permit issuance. Hunt options can be viewed online by category or by area using an interactive map. A downloadable PDF of the 2015-16 Drawn Hunt Catalog is also available online.

To participate, applicants will need Internet access, an e-mail address, and a credit or debit card. The Customer ID number from the applicant’s hunting or fishing license allows easy access to the system. The first application deadline is Aug. 3 for the alligator and exotic game hunt categories, and other hunt category deadlines occur from Aug. 25 through Dec. 30. Hunters can apply up to 11:59 p.m. Central Time on the application date, and after the application is submitted, the drawing status can be checked online at any time.

For more information about the online system and to get started in the application process, visit www.tpwd.texas.gov/drawnhunts. For information, contact hunt [at] tpwd [dot] texas [dot] gov or call (512) 389-4505 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The drawn hunts program offers affordable hunting experiences throughout the state, including eleven specifically for youth only. There are no application fees or permit fees for youth up to age 16 and non-hunting supervising adults on youth only hunts. Adult application fees for Special Permit hunts are either $3 or $10 depending on the category. Adult hunters that are selected will also need to pay an additional permit fee of $80 for regular hunts and $130 for extended hunts. Some categories, such as the E-postcard hunts and U.S. Forest Service antlerless deer permits, require no application or permit fees.