With the arrival of the Sept. 1 dove season opener last weekend, as usual, early season hunting reports over the Labor Day weekend were mixed.
For starters, as alluded to in this space last Friday morning, there simply aren’t great dove numbers in recent years here in the counties lying to the north of the DFW Metroplex area. That trend unfortunately includes Grayson, Collin and Cooke counties.
Declining grain production is one likely culprit, continuing development another, and then there’s the weather. True to form, a huge pre-dove season thunderstorm complex developed in Oklahoma last Friday morning and rolled into the Texoma area, making for a soggy Battle of the Ax playing surface last Friday night and scrambling the meager local dove numbers even more.
In Grayson County, dove hunting was only fair at best on Sunday and Monday as most local hunters shot only a few birds, if any at all. For a few wingshooters in good fields in the usual hotspots near Dorchester, Gunter and Collinsville, there were a few good shoots to be found. When hunters were in the right spot, the action was good.
Still, the desire for a red hot early September dove shoot caused many locals to travel, including a group of seasoned wingshooters from Grayson and Cooke Counties. Comprised of Sherman’s Jim Lillis, Whitesboro’s Doug Rodgers and Gainesville’s Phil Bellows, this group ventured to western Oklahoma once again for the season’s opening bell.
While they found enough birds to engage in some friendly wagering on shooting a limit of doves with .410 shotguns, there weren’t as many shooting opportunities as they’ve found in years gone by. The end result was enough birds for some post-hunt cleaning chores and a few George Washington’s pocketed by the group’s senior member. Memo to that clan in future seasons — don’t bet against the veteran wingshooter from Sherman.
Meanwhile, staying out west, North Texas Outfitters guide Dakota Stowers found better hunting than expected as some good scouting and last minute bird movement brought solid results.
Stowers reported via Facebook that the various group’s he and his guides had out on either side of the Red River in the vicinity of Wichita Falls found some good shooting. When the holiday weekend was over, while the shooting wasn’t as good as it has been in recent years, a few hundred birds had still been knocked down as hunters sought limits of 15 doves.
Continuing the trend of venturing out west, veteran Lake Texoma striped bass guide John Blasingame reported via his Facebook page that he found a good dove shoot out in the Rolling Plains. From the social media photo he shared, it looked like some good eating was in order.
Taking a glimpse at reports on TexasHuntingForum.com, those musings found mixed results too. Some had decent shoots in portions of North and West Texas, others not so much. As the South Zone opener approaches on Sept. 14, we’ll see if the idea of better hunting down south holds merit.
Finally, as some wingshooters continue to focus on the primary ingredient for jalapeno spiced dove poppers cooked on a hot grill, others are already turning their attention to early teal.
With the Sept. 14-29 early season still approaching in Texas, early teal hunters in Oklahoma are heading out this weekend for the beginning of the Sept. 7-22 season in the Sooner State.
While teal sightings are sparse locally, a couple of reports did surface this past week on the Ducks Unlimited migration app as hunters noted a few flights of blue-winged teal showing up on watershed lakes in the Ardmore vicinity.
With the Sept. 14 Harvest Moon approaching, perhaps the coming full moon cycle will bring good numbers of bluewings south into the Texoma region despite the continuing heat.
A recent talk with Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation migratory bird biologist Josh Richardson found the biologist indicating that there appears to be some unusual numbers of bluewings nesting in Kansas and Nebraska this year.
Hopefully that means that it won’t take much to get those early birds rocketing into the region as September’s wingshooting smorgasbord continues.