It begins again.
A wonderful thing happens in Texas beginning with September 1st; the date marks the beginning of hunting season - more specifically, the beginning of mourning dove season in North Texas. This is a time of year that I look forward to and it goes all the way into January - which is typically the end of the winter hunts. In fact, other than for spring turkey season, the winter contains almost all of the hunting we can do in Texas.
For September and October, my time will be spent in fields with shotgun in hand watching for doves to come into range. Dove hunting isn't so much as hunting as it is shooting. Unfortunately, shooting and missing is more common as doves can fly extremely fast, they seem to have an innate ability to shuck and jive when being shot at, and become extremely wary as the season progresses. In fact, even with a great deal of time spent in the fields, I only bagged one dove last year. The year before I scored significantly more, but had better spots. This year, I will be dove hunting public lands exclusively as we did not renew the lease in Honey Grove from last year.
Because Angie arranged for my trophy white tail hunt in November, we decided that spending additional money on a lease wasn't in the budget for this season. That means that except for two and a half wonderful days in Laredo, I will likely not be hunting mammals this winter - unless, of course, I get selected for a public hunt.
Texas puts aside over 1 million acres for public hunting. Several of the areas are by permit only and the only way to obtain a permit is to win the lottery for a particular area. Last week I spent several hours putting together my entries for permits. I entered Dylan and I in several deer hunts, a wild hog hunt, a javelina hunt, and a spring turkey hunt. If our entry is selected, we'll have a three day weekend in the particular unit.
The state does a good job of managing the entire process. Each entry cost $3 per adult and the chances of getting selected for some units are actually pretty good. Each year you aren't selected, you get an additional entry point in that category for the following year. At some point, we'll get selected and have an awesome weekend adventure. The javelina hunt, for example, is in the mountains of West Texas near Mexico. If we get to go, it will be a long drive but a great adventure.
Our entries for this year include the following:
Pat Mayse Wildlife Management Area (WMA) - Gun Deer, either sex (limit: 3 deer, one buck). There are 60 permits available and last year they had 150 entries. Hunter success in bagging a deer was 30%.
Cooper Lake WMA - Gun Deer, antlerless or spike (limit: 3 deer, one buck). There are 12 permits available and this is a new location, so there were no hunts last year.
Gus Engling WMA - Gun Deer, management either sex (limit: 3 deer). There are 120 permits and last year they had 833 entries. Last years success was 32%.
Elephant Mountain WMA - Javelina (limit: one javelina and one elk). There are 8 permits available and last year they had 564 applicants for 10 permits. Hunter success was 0%.
Fort Boggy - Feral Hog (limit: unlimited). Last year there were 133 applicants for the 20 permits available with 22% hunter success.
Pat Mayse WMA - Spring Turkey (limit: one gobbler). Last year there were 140 applicants for 32 permits. This year there are 30 permits available. Hunter success was 7%.
As you can see, the state manages an excellent public hunting system. In addition to these hunts, there are several others - including Mule deer, exotics, alligator, and others - including several youth only categories. All are affordable and are located throughout the state so they are reachable regardless of where you live. Except for the Javelina and Hog hunts, all of the hunts we put entries in for are within a couple of hours from the house.
In addition to the hunting opportunities above, the state puts aside a significant portion of land for public dove hunting. A $48 annual public license gets you access to these areas - typically 60+ or more acres of harvested farm land that may, or may not, get a ton of dove fly overs. There are about 1,000 acres close by in Royse City (about 30 minutes from the house) and an additional several hundred acres up north near where the lease was last year. I'm sure I will be out there as much as possible.
Add a possible goose/duck hunt in Wyoming this winter and it should be a full season, even if I'm not in a blind every weekend like I was last year. Unfortunately, if we are going to get a freezer full of meat we'll have to get lucky twice - once to get selected and once to bag some game.
Either way, I will report all of the goings on right here.