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The yearly white-winged dove hunting season opens here in the Valley, and across other parts of the state, which have been designated as the special white-winged dove area, tomorrow at noon. The season will continue Sunday Sept. 2 and will resume for an additional two days on Saturday and Sunday Sept. 8 and 9. Hunting hours for each of the four days start at noon and end at sunset.
During the special white-winged dove hunting season, daily bag limits include 15 white-winged, mourning and white-tipped doves in the aggregate. This daily limit is to include no more than 4 mourning doves and 2 white-tipped doves. The possession limit is equal to twice the daily bag limit.
Over the years, many Valley businesses have seen their sales increase during white-winged dove season. With local and visiting hunters alike purchasing shotguns, shells, food, drinks, ice and other items they require during their hunts, the Valley’s economy received a boost year after year as a result of dove season.
One local business that still benefits from dove season is Southwest Hay and Feed in Mission. Company President Danny Carrera does see an increase in the sale of dove hunting related items this time of year, but he knows that it’s not anything like it used to be.
“In the 1960s I remember how hunters used to flock to the Valley for dove season,” said Carrera. “It was bigger than having a parade. I don’t know how many tons of ice the Mission Ice House alone sold, but it was a lot. You had people that would pluck birds to earn money. The money that was pumped into the local economy over those two weekends was huge.”
Among the items that Carrera sells at his store are shotguns and shells. Which gauge of shotgun a hunter prefers usually depends on his or her gender and age.
“We sell a lot of 12 gauge shells,” said Carrera. “That is the preferred gauge shotgun among men. For women and children 20 gauge has become more popular over the years. In my time 410 shotguns were the preferred size for children, but the shells have become very expensive to shoot. You can still buy a box of 25 20 gauge shotgun shells for around $5 while 410 shells go for around $15.”
According to Carrera, 7 ½ or 8 shot shells work best on doves with 7 ½ shot being the most popular size. Unlike the steel shot shells that are required to shoot waterfowl, lead shot shells can be used to hunt doves.
When it comes to purchasing shotgun shells, Carrera believes in the old adage of, “You get what you pay for.”
“There are lesser quality shells that I like to say are for making noise and there are higher quality shells that are made to reach out further. You can get decent quality shells for around $5 a box, but for $6 you’re going to get shells with more powder and more ounces of lead to reach out there for longer distances,” said Carrera.
Carrera offered a word of advice to any hunters planning on going after doves this weekend.
“You need to be sure you are using a shotgun that will only hold three shells maximum,” said Carrera. “A lot of people make the mistake of buying a new shotgun and not installing the plug that comes inside the box. What the plug does is to limit the number of shells in the magazine to two. If the plug is not installed and a game warden checks your gun you will be fined.”
To avoid confusion and the possibility of making a costly mistake, Carrera offered an additional word of advice to hunters.
“The best advice I can give anybody that is planning on going hunting is that when they buy their license they need to pick up and read the Outdoor Annual book. This booklet includes the Texas hunting rules and regulations and all hunters should know the rules and regulations because they change yearly,” said Carrera.
For additional information regarding what is required to hunt different game animals and birds in the state of Texas legally and for an online version of the Outdoor Annual rules and regulations booklet, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/hunt/.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.