Will the doves be coming to the fields? Or have they long since moved to greener, wetter pastures.
It’s the question that will undoubtedly be answered this weekend when hunters clad in camo take to the field.
Dove season actually opened on Friday at a time when most hunters are likely working — unless they are able to sneak out early.
For the rest though, the season will likely have to wait until Saturday morning.
Capt. Henry Balderamas of Rockport, game warden supervisor for this area, said that he expects the best hunting to understandably be just about anywhere there is water.
“If there is a watering hole they will come and water in the evenings,” he said.
Of course, that is until the thunderstorms arrive or the first northers start pushing through.
Balderamas reminded that dove are classified as migratory birds for a reason. They migrate.
“The thing with dove is that they are not really territorial. Weather has a lot to do with it and so does food and water,” he said. “A good a little thunderstorm passing through will chase the birds off.”
About the only consistency is that the best hunting will be on the edge of town.
Well town folk have bird feeders and bird baths.
Of course, Balderamas reminded that hunters need to watch their surroundings.
“Folks need to watch the direction they are shooting in,” he said. “Even though you are in a rural area, folks get a little paranoid when pellets are hitting their house.”
Peppering someone’s property with bird shot is against the law.
About eight to 10 years ago, the legislature passed a law, a Class C misdemeanor, referred to as trespassing by projectile.
Prior to that law, the state would have had to prove deadly conduct which would have been more difficult.
Being the safety conscious sort, the game warden also asked that hunters wait hold off on the adult beverages until after hunting.
“Please be careful out there,” he said. “I realize you are on private property but lets go out and hunt first and then you can drink alcohol.
“Alcohol and guns don’t mix.”
It’s been some years now since anyone in the county was killed during dove season and Balderamas wants to keep it that way.
Last year was a record for having the fewest hunting accidents since 1966 — the year statistics of this nature started being kept.
Last year statewide, 23 people were injured — of those two died.
For those keeping track — more people are historical injured during dove season than during deer season.
“One is too many,” Balderamas said. “We want everybody to have a good time but be safe.”
Those hunting should remember to swing by and purchase their hunting license or they just might get a special gift from one of the game wardens working this area — a ticket.
“Starting this weekend and through the middle of February, there will be one or two game wardens working (Bee County) during the week and on weekends,” Balderamas said.
To the younger hunters, don’t forget that hunter safety courses are required. As always, hunters should read up on the rules and regulations published in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Outdoor Annual.
As Bee County is currently without a fulltime game warden, those seeing anything suspicious should call the sheriff’s to report it.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.