Texas dove hunting season longest in 80 years

prospects for the 2016-17 hunting season are good to excellent.

The Texas dove season in the Central and North zones opens Sept. 1, and the word from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is that hunters can expect to see plenty of birds and have a lot more days to hunt them. That’s plenty of good news for over 415,000 Texas dove hunters.

We’ll have a 90-day season with 20 more days of opportunity compared with previous years.

“Hunters will now be able to take advantage of those northern birds riding early November cool fronts into Texas, without sacrificing days of opportunity early in the season,” said Dave Morrison, TPWD Small Game Program Director. “We’ve also tacked on extra days to the back end of the season in late January when South Texas prospects are still pretty solid.”

Based on early survey results at TPWD, mourning dove numbers may be some of the highest in more than a decade across the state. Ditto that for white-winged doves.

Texas dove season dates and limits

• North Zone: Sept. 1 – Nov. 13 and Dec. 17 – Jan. 1, 2017.

• Central Zone: Sept. 1 – Nov. 6 and Dec. 17 – Jan. 8, 2017.

• South Zone: Sept. 23 – Nov. 13 and Dec. 17 – Jan. 23, 2017.

The daily bag limit for doves statewide is 15, and the possession limit is 45.

• Special White-winged Dove Area: Sept. 3-4, 10-11, Sept. 23 – Nov. 9, Dec. 17 – Jan. 23, 2017. 

During the early two weekends in the Special White-winged Dove Area, hunting is allowed only in the afternoon, and the daily bag limit is 15 birds, to include not more than two mourning doves and two white-tipped doves.

New hunting and fishing licenses are now available

The new 2016-17 hunting and fishing licenses are now available. All current Texas hunting and fishing licenses expire Aug. 31.

TPWD issues more than 2.4 million hunting and fishing licenses each year. All revenue generated from hunting and fishing license fees pays for conservation efforts and recreational opportunities that help make Texas one of the best places in the country to hunt and fish, according to TPWD.

Hunters and anglers can get their new 2016-17 hunting and fishing licenses at license retailers, online at www.tpwd.texas.gov/buy or by phone at (800) 895-4248. Call center hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. The online transaction system is available 24/7. Please note that there is a required $5 administrative fee for each phone or online transaction, but multiple items can be purchased during a single transaction occasion for the $5 fee. All of these license sales outlets will offer the opportunity to make a donation to help veterans and/or families in need of food.

This season when purchasing their licenses, Texans can also enter several drawings. Big Time Texas Hunts offers the chance to win one or more premium guided hunt packages, with all lodging and food included. There are opportunities to pursue bighorn sheep, mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, alligator, waterfowl, upland game birds, wild hogs and exotics. Big Time Texas Hunts entries are available online for $9 each at www.tpwd.texas.gov/buyentry or for $10 each at license retailers or by phone.

TPWD will also be awarding Lifetime Super Combo Licenses to three lucky winners during the Lifetime License Drawings. Winners will never need to buy another Texas hunting or fishing license. Participants can enter for $5 per entry at license retailers or online at www.tpwd.texas.gov/licensedraw. The first entry deadline for the three monthly drawings is Sept. 30, and all non-winning entries will still be eligible to win in the next two drawings. The second drawing entry deadline is Oct. 31 for chances in the last two drawings, and the final entry deadline is Nov. 30 for the last drawing. Big Time Texas Hunts and Lifetime License Drawing entries go to support conservation and help keep hunting and fishing great in Texas.

Hunting and fishing regulations for the new season can be found in the 2016-17 Outdoor Annual, available in print form at license retailers, online at www.outdoorannual.com and in the free Outdoor Annual mobile app available for both Apple and Android devices and updated with regulations for the new season Aug. 15.

Also, Texas hunters and fisherman will have the opportunity to donate money to Hunters for the Hungry when purchasing or renewing their licenses this year. Their donation will support a popular program that provides thousands of servings of venison annually to struggling Texans.

“Hunters for the Hungry brings healthy protein to struggling families while encouraging environmental stewardship,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas, which sponsors the program. “It’s a win-win for hunters, landowners, processors and Texans who are struggling to make ends meet.”

The program, which is a partnership between Feeding Texas, TPWD and local meat processors, offers hunters the opportunity to donate excess deer meat to needy families in their community. The meat is distributed through a statewide network of regional food banks via local charities.

The new donation option resulted from legislation passed by the Texas Legislature in 2015. Roughly 2.6 million licenses are sold in Texas annually.

Hunters who want to donate meat must bring either a white tail or mule deer to a participating meat processor, pay a discounted processing fee and receive a tax-deductible receipt for their donation. The processor grinds and packages the meat for distribution by a local food bank. The program has operated in Texas for over twenty years and has been managed by Feeding Texas since 2012.

To learn more about supporting Hunters for the Hungry, call (512) 527-3624.

Kayaker drowns

Sunday, Aug. 14, at 7:45 p.m., the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office responded to a kayaker in distress on Spindletop Bayou against the saltwater barrier. Spindletop Bayou is on the far west side of Jefferson County; to get access to it, you must travel through Winnie.

Once the deputy was on scene, he was told by witnesses that the kayaker was trapped against the saltwater barrier.  The deputy saw the kayaker wearing a life jacket floating away from the barrier. The deputy removed his gear and jumped in the water and swam over to the kayaker and with the help of witnesses, they got him to the bank. 

The kayaker was not breathing, and the deputy started CPR.  By that time, a game warden with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department arrived and assisted with CPR.

EMS arrived, continued CPR and transported the kayaker to the Winnie Community Hospital.  

Despite the heroic efforts of everyone involved, the kayaker did not make it and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The kayaker has been identified as 23-year-old Chadd Daniel Burke of Winnie.  Burke was originally from Buna.