Ranchers are selling their herds.
Farmers are debating whether enough rain will fall to make planting feasible.
Hunters, however, might just see a perk in this dreary time of the drought.
“Dove hunting over a water source should be excellent,” said Corey Mason, Texas Parks and Wildlife dove program leader. “Additionally, dove may be concentrated on food sources, so if you can find a stand of sunflower, goat weed, etc., hunting should be productive.
“Native food sources are going to be more important this year because agricultural crops aren’t as good as years past.”
The South Zone dove season, which opened Friday, Sept. 23, runs through Sunday, Oct. 30, then reopening Friday, Dec. 23, through Monday, Jan. 23, with a 15-bird daily bag and not more than two white-tipped doves.
Hunters should check their Texas Parks and Wildlife Outdoor Annual for all hunting regulations before heading to the field. Hunters will receive the booklet when they purchase their new license — another crucial element to hunting.
Biologists say the drought will have some affect on dove populations, with the greatest being on juveniles. However, they do not expect significant effect to what hunters will see this fall.
Water is the key to finding the doves.
However, rains this past weekend dispersed flocks, sending them to plowed ground and other high-ground sources like gravel roads.
Ben Lyssy, out of Karnes City, said that this is exactly what he is seeing in the fields.
“It doesn’t seem like there were as many birds as there were,” he said.
Prior to the rains, the birds were congregating around the water holes and sunflowers, but now, with more areas to drink, the birds have scattered.
But, without more rain, these additional puddles will dry and the birds will return to the ponds and streams. Hunters will have to adapt.
“Mother Nature rules – we don’t,” he said.
With hunting being the best in the morning and late afternoon, this leaves a large block of time free for hunters – which is where the Lonesome Dove Fest fits in.
Held every year in Karnes County, this festival will draw hunters and non-hunters alike from San Antonio, Victoria and just about every other town in all directions.
Organizers say they try to have something for everyone at the annual event which takes place at the Karnes County Youth Show Barn grounds on U.S. Hwy. 181 between Karnes City and Kenedy.
Admission is free Saturday until 5 p.m. After 5 p.m., admission is $5 at the gate.
In its 19th year, the Lonesome Dove Fest has grown from a gathering of dove hunters in a Coy City hay patch to an event recently described as the “South Texas Expo” by Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s Education Coordinator Steve Hall.
The annual festival combines education, outdoors activities and entertainment for nearly 10,000 visitors
Lyssy, one of the Karnes City Rotary Club event organizers, said this year’s theme for the festival was appropriately chosen — Black Gold.
Karnes County is in the heart of the recent oil and gas boom.
New this year for the festival are shows by Swampmaster Jeff Quattrocchi which Lyssy says is both entertaining to watch and educational.
“We wanted something different,” Lyssy said.
The Swampmaster will perform three shows at Lonesome Dove Fest Saturday. Show times are 11:30 a.m., 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Last year, uncooperative weather — specifically a downpour — slowed the usual crowds.
“The weather looks like it really is going to be good this year,” Lyssy said. “It wouldn’t bother us if it rained us out this year.”
Below is a list of just some events lined up for Saturday:
• 11:30 a.m. – Swampmaster performance
• Noon - 3 p.m. – Music by Dirty Texas
• 12:30 p.m. – Birds of Prey performance
• 1-3 p.m. – Stick Horse Rodeo
• 3 p.m. – Swampmaster performance
• 3-6 p.m.– Music by Carolyn Fox
• 3:30 p.m. – Birds of Prey performance
• 4:15 p.m. – Kids Camo contest
• 5 p.m. – Team Shoot awards
• 5:30 p.m. – Swampmaster performance
• 6-8 p.m. – Music by Raisin Kane
• 8-9 p.m. – Live auction
• 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. – Music by John Wayne Schulz.
Events happening all day include:
Kimble Cattle Longhorns, Moon Bounce, train rides, Hatti’s Ponies, A&J Snake Handlers, exhibits, Cebela’s fish tank, merchant booths, live music, shooting events and a wide variety of food and beverages.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.