The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is forecasting a favorable dove season this fall.


Due to the coronavirus, many of the migratory game bird monitoring efforts that typically occur were canceled this year.


That includes our spring dove surveys that we usually conduct in May and June. They give us a better idea of what the breeding populations look like each year. We don’t have that data, but I’ve been trying to get as many reports as I can from our field staff around the state. For the most part, things look pretty good.


People are reporting more mourning doves than in the past few years.


The forecast holds true for mourning doves and white-winged doves, because they have the same requirements during the breeding season and typically target the same types of food.


I think it is going to be a pretty good year all around.


There has been an increase in white-winged dove populations in Texas over the past 10 to 15 years.


That’s something a lot of hunters are starting to key in on, especially those outside of the traditional white-winged areas.


Dove season for the north zone is Sept. 1-Nov. 12 and Dec. 18-Jan. 3.


Dove season for the central zone is Sept. 1-Nov. 1 and Dec. 18-Jan. 14.


The south zone regular season is Sept. 14-Nov. 1 and Dec. 18-Jan. 23.


Historically, the south zone has always had to open a little later than the north and central zones. That goes back decades to when there were thoughts and concerns that opening hunting too early in the south zone might affect birds that might be still breeding at that point.


Prior to the Sept. 14 start date, the south zone opened on the Friday closest to Sept. 17.


Sept. 14 was a strategic date. The idea behind that was we have our four-special white-winged days that we’re allowed early on in the season in the south zone. By setting the opening day of the regular south zone season on Sept. 14 every year, we can guarantee no matter how the calendar days fall, every single year the four special white-winged dove days will cover the first two weekends in September and the 14th will come after that and cover the next weekend and then on.


It gives south zone hunters an opportunity to hunt every weekend in September.


Considering that 70 to 85 percent of the doves that are harvested in Texas are harvested the first weeks in September, trying to get more of early September as possible for our south zone hunters is important.


The additional days for special white-winged dove season in the south zone are Sept. 5-6, 12 and 13.


There are no major changes to this year’s bag limit or other regulations.


We have a 90-day season and 15-bird bag limit. The only thing hunters need to be aware of is, as usual, the special white-winged days in the south zone do have special regulations.


Hunters who bag Eurasian-collared doves are encouraged to keep some sort of plumage or a wing on it to identify it as a non-native or non-game species.


Eurasian-collared doves do not count toward the daily bag limit.


They want to remind hunters to get the migratory game bird endorsement along with their hunting license.


If you buy your super combo, it should be included. You do need to be HIP certified, and that stands for Harvest Information Program. That’s a federal program that helps estimate overall harvest and number of hunters on a nationwide scale. When you buy your license, make sure you answer those HIP questions and get your HIP certification to be legal.


More hunting dates and information can be found at https://tpwd.texas.gov.


WILDFIRE ACTIVITY INCREASES IN TEXAS


Triple-digit temperatures worsen wildfire conditions.


Dry conditions across much of Texas coupled with triple-digit temperatures have resulted in increased wildfire activity, particularly in north-central Texas and in areas along the Interstate-35 corridor. Conducive wildfire conditions are also expanding north and east into higher population centers, including the Interstate-45 corridor.


We are seeing a significant increase in wildfire occurrence that coincides with the current streak of 100-degree days, Texas A&M Forest Service predictive services department head. Many of these wildfires are starting late in the day, or early evening, when we observe daily peak heating and an increase in gusty winds.


A cold front forecasted to move into the state early next week will likely end the streak of 100-degree days. However, the front is not expected to provide enough rainfall to improve the vegetative dryness that is supporting wildfire activity.


For current conditions and wildfire outlook, check out the Texas Fire Potential Outlook.


Fires burned 5,483 Texas acres this week; many fires preventable


Over the past seven days, state and local resources have responded to 94 fires that burned 5,483 acres. This includes large, multi-day fires such as the still-smoldering Pennington Creek Fire in Palo Pinto and Jack counties, which has burned 2,654 acres and is 95% contained. Activity in Central Texas increased this week with new fires in Brown, Mills, Caldwell, Williamson, and Bastrop counties.


Many recent wildfires have been attributed to preventable human activities such as debris burning. In 2020 so far, debris burning has caused 902 wildfires, which burned 10,994 acres. This includes 16 fires that have burned 104 acres over the past week.


Aviation resources continue to assist ground crews by dropping water and fire retardants to slow fire progression. Fire suppression aircraft have logged approximately 87 hours of flight time over the past week. Efforts involved dropping 148,240 gallons of water and 33,697 gallons of retardant on multiple fires, including the Pennington Creek Fire, the Smith Fire in Mills County (252 acres, 80% contained) and the All Hands Fire in Coleman County (619 acres, 100% contained).


Aviation resources include two Type 1 helicopters, two Type 3 helicopters, nine single engine air tankers, one heavy air tanker and two air attack platforms.


Since Jan. 1, 2020, state and local resources have responded to 3,330 fires that burned a total of 171,204 acres. Aviation resources have flown 1,510 hours, dropping 1,517,151 gallons of water and retardant on Texas wildfires.


Prevention and mitigation


The majority of wildfires in Texas are caused by humans. With hot and dry conditions statewide, many counties in Texas are currently under a burn ban. During periods of drought or high wildfire danger, a county judge or commissioner’s court may enact a burn ban to protect the public and prevent human-caused wildfires.


Across Texas, we are experiencing a hot and dry weather pattern, which is creating critically dry fuels that are highly susceptible to ignition. Texas A&M Forest Service is reminding residents to be mindful of any outdoor activity that may cause a spark.


Here are some things to know before you burn any debris:


• Learn before you burn. Contact your county officials to ensure your county is not currently under a burn ban or other outdoor burning restrictions.


• Many areas of Texas are experiencing high temperatures and dry weather. Residents should stay up to date on weather conditions and always use extreme caution when performing these outdoor activities even if not under a burn ban.


• Always obey local burn bans and outdoor burning restrictions. Wait to conduct any outdoor burning or light campfires until the burn ban has been lifted and weather conditions are not extremely hot, dry, or windy.


• When burning debris, choose a day when winds are under 10 mph and humidity is high in your area.


• Keep the debris pile small and have a 10-foot area cleared around the pile. Always keep a water source nearby.


Residents should pay attention to county burn bans and avoid all outdoor burning until conditions improve. Burn ban information can be found by contacting local fire departments or by visiting Texas Burn Bans.