NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KETK) – For some, dove hunting is an introduction to the outdoors but for others, it’s quality time with their friends or family.
Dove hunting has a special place in the hearts of many who call Texas home.
“There is a lot of enjoyment that people can get from it. Bird hunting is challenging, it is an extremely challenging type of hunting, so folks do enjoy it by challenging themselves with hunting for birds especially the smaller birds like the dove,” said John Albritton, co-owner of Meadow Ridge Archery & Gun.
According to wildlife biologists, it may not be as challenging this season.
2019 has seen a multitude of different weather conditions, all benefiting the doves or dove hunters in one way or another.
“Dove, in general, can have pretty good years just about any year because they’re so much generalists,” said Dr. Brent Burt, Professor of Biology at SFA. “They don’t require any specific habitat.”
Early in the year, the rain continued non-stop as lakes began to overflow.
However, it was good news for dove populations.
“The main thing it’s going to impact is the vegetation and since they’re granivores, 99% of what they eat is seeds, so that’s going to be a banner crop for them,” said Dr. Burt. “More food, more baby birds.”
Then from late July and all throughout August the heat and dryness were relentless.
This change in the weather gives hunters the advantage.
“What the dry does (is) doves do have to drink, they have to drink about 3% of their body mass per day,” said Dr. Burt. “What that does is it makes them fly to water sources which can make it easier for hunters to predict where they’re going to be.”
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, more than 300,000 dove hunters will head out this season and harvest up to 10 million doves.
This brings in lots of business to local stores.
“We hope that it will be a great season and that’s what we’re looking forward to,” said Albirtton. “We’re gearing up here at the store for it to make sure that we have product on hand and we can take care of customers when they come in.”
Texas leads the nation in dove populations and come September, it will lead the nation in dove hunters, looking for a good harvest.