Despite the sweltering heat, the calendar says we’re approaching mid-September.

That means it’s time for dove hunters to dust off their shotguns, ammo and gear, and get ready to head outdoors for the South Zone season opener (Sept. 14).

Actually, several (mostly near the city) have been shooting at whitewings for the last two weekends during that special season, and indications are they’ve experienced some success.

A hot, dry landscape heading into the season can concentrate dove around feeding and watering areas, making for excellent hunting, according to wildlife biologists with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

They added that dove populations have thrived this year thanks to the amount and timing of spring rains across most of the state that improved habitat for dove breeding season.

South Zone hunters must be sure to recognize that this year features an unfamiliar Saturday start date because federal restrictions prohibit opening the season starting prior to Sept. 14.

“Over the years, TPWD has worked very hard to open up more of September to our hunters in the southern part of the state,” said Owen Fitzsimmons, TPWD dove program leader. “The vast majority of our dove harvest occurs in September.”

Hunters are reminded that licenses are on sale for the 2019-20 hunting season and can be purchased online through the TPWD website or at licensed retailers.

In addition to a hunting license, anyone born after Sept. 1, 1971, must successfully complete a hunter education training course in order to hunt legally in Texas. 

A Migratory Game Bird endorsement and Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification also are required to hunt dove. 

The daily bag limit is 15 doves and possession limit is three times the daily bag limit. Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

More information on hunting regulations can be found in the Texas Outdoor Annual mobile app or online at OutdoorAnnual.com.

On a related note, please take a few minutes to enjoy the interesting stories provided in our Life Outdoors section in today’s edition.

Our editors have shared limitless information, featuring the 26th annual Lonesome Dove Fest in Karnes County which begins Thursday, Sept. 12, and including other hunts, fishing, hiking trails and a nature retreat. Additionally, our advertisers’ special seasonal offerings may intrigue readers. 

We encourage everyone to get out there and enjoy the great outdoors, especially when it gets a little cooler.