Prep now for Sept. 1 opening of dove season

The dove season opener is Sept. 1, 2015.

The dove season opener in the Central Zone is set for Sept. 1, and in case you haven’t looked at the calendar, that’s a Tuesday. That’s a little bit odd, but the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has opted to keep the opener on the traditional day of Sept. 1.

The best thing you can do to get in shape for those sweltering hot September hunts is easy – walk. It all starts with a good and comfortable pair of shoes. Next, it’s just a matter of taking the time to get out and enjoy walking around the neighborhood or a nearby state park like Village Creek in Lumberton.

Walking is simple, and it’s a great way to stay active without the added intensity and impact that other forms of exercise bring, so almost anyone can do it. The recommended amount of walking breaks down to 30 minutes of exercise over five days a week. That’s it. And it’s also good for your hunting dog. In fact, if you’re an active deer, duck and dove hunter, walking should be a daily routine.

One study found that walking was better for your heart than running. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that brisk walking reduces the risk of heart disease more effectively than running. They observed participants aged between 18 and 80 over a six-year period and found that walking reduced the risk of heart disease by 9.3 percent, while running reduced it by 4.5 percent. It’s also been determined that walking helped participants sleep better and feel more alert during the day.

The most important thing you can stock up on prior to dove season is shotgun shells. The most popular shot sizes will disappear faster than greased lighting. If you’re thinking about buying a new shotgun, now is the time to pull the trigger on that purchase. Probably the most popular shotgun for dove hunting is a 20-gauge over and under. It’s got low recoil, is lightweight and the shot shells are usually available where sporting goods are sold. One other thing you might consider buying is a good pair of snake boots.

Cast-and-blast fishing and hunting trips are very popular during September and October. One of the best places for that combo is out of Port Mansfield at Getaway Adventures Lodge. That’s a long haul, but well worth the road time. It’s a first-class lodge on the Laguna Madre. You can catch reds and trout in the morning, and shoot doves in the afternoon.

Rains boost fish stocking on Texas lakes

“Widespread rains in May and June did more than end the drought and raise lakes to levels not seen in years,” says Todd Engeling, with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “Many lakes that had been scheduled for stocking contingent on significant spring rains were able to be stocked to take advantage of improved habitat.”

Fortunately, TPWD’s freshwater fish hatcheries had a better-than-expected production year for such popular species as Florida largemouth bass, blue catfish, striped bass and hybrid striped bass, making more fish available.

“TPWD has five inland fish hatcheries,” says Engeling. “One is currently closed because of water supply problems caused by drought.”

So far this year TPWD hatcheries produced and stocked almost 500,000 channel catfish fingerlings; 800,000 blue catfish fingerlings; 4.8 million striped bass and hybrid striped bass fingerlings and 4.7 million fry; 157,000 Guadalupe bass fingerlings; 55,000 smallmouth bass fingerlings; 129,000 bluegill fingerlings; and 7.5 million largemouth bass fingerlings.

“The good news doesn’t stop there,” says Engeling. “Spring rains brought many reservoirs to levels not seen in several years, so the hatchery fish were stocked into great habitat. When reservoir levels go down for several years, vegetation grows up in the dry lake bottom. When levels rise, the flooded vegetation gives little fish a place to hide from predators and, as it decays, releases nutrients into the water that jumpstart the food chain.

“Water level rises came to many lakes in time for spawns from resident fish to enjoy good habitat conditions, adding to the bounty. Those water level rises benefit all species of fish, which means that fishing should see significant improvement in the next several years, and predator species like bass, striped bass and hybrid striped bass will have plenty to eat and grow quickly.”