I Miss Texas Waterfowl Hunting

Wow – I really miss Texas waterfowl hunting – especially duck hunting. The ducks were late getting off this year – I continued seeing them on local ponds until late April. We had a magnificent year with a huge duck hatch in the prairie pothole region and then a scarcity of water in Texas to really concentrate them. I changed my hunting tactics a little this year by un-joining my duck hunting club in favor of purchasing a john boat and hunting the river right behind my house. This also gave me more opportunities to take my kids duck hunting with me. Rather than a long trip and over night stay to hunt ducks, I could sleep in until 6AM and still be on the river and setup by shooting time. Now, all I’m left with are some great memories and pictures to while my time until Texas waterfowl season starts again and it’s time for some duck hunting in Texas.

The Majesty of Texas Waterfowl Hunting Weather

Early Morning Texas Waterfowl Hunting on the River
Fog Sets In On Early Morning Texas Waterfowl Hunting

One of the advantages of Texas waterfowl hunting in Central Texas is the wide variety of weather conditions – there is just never a dull moment. I particularly favor the cold, foggy mornings when it’s hard to see but easy to hear. It’s like magic when the ducks just appear out of nowhere into your spread.







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Easy Portable Duck Hunting Blinds

Yellow Grass Portable Texas Waterfowl Blind on a Sandbank in a River
Grass & Conduit Portable Texas Waterfowl Blind

I really enjoy hunting the river and the amazing array of choices for where to hunt for Texas waterfowl. I know a lot of duck hunters like to get there very early and get “their” spot and I don’t mind. I like variety and portability. I made up a quick and dirty portable duck blind that I can easily carry and setup almost anywhere. I made it out of 6 conduit pipes and a couple of grass mats. The only drawback is that my dog has trouble seeing out of it.





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Take Your Kids Duck Hunting in Texas

White and Red Dog with Blond Girl Texas Waterfowl Hunting
Take Your Dogs and Kids Texas Waterfowl Hunting

I absolutely love hunting with my daughters – but one at a time. They don’t shoot yet but are always ready and willing to join me on an outing. This precious one on one time is too valuable to pass up. Sometimes we don’t even have much to say to each other – just the experience of being together and sharing an adventure hunting Texas waterfowl is enough.







A Happy Dog and a Full Strap of Texas Waterfowl

Red and White Brittany Texas Waterfowl Retriever with Grey Ducks
Unusual Texas Waterfowl Retriever

Another advantage to hunting on the river is the availability of natural brush to create your own blind. There always seems to be plenty of downfall laying around to quickly build a blind. Now, it won’t be the most concealed blind that you’ve ever seen but come on – they’re ducks! I think a good spread and sitting still until they commit is good enough – my dog and the full strap of Texas waterfowl seem to indicate that I might be on to something.






Unique Bird from Goose Hunting in Texas

Rust Head Blue Goose from Goose Hunting in Texas
Rust Head Blue Trophy Goose from Goose Hunting in Texas

I also really enjoy a goose hunting – especially snow goose hunting. Snow geese are so very wary that it makes hunting them a real challenge. I especially enjoy picking out the blue geese among the flocks of white snow geese – that’s an even rarer treat. I shot this one in a late Texas waterfowl season conservation order hunt and was drawn to it’s curious red/orange head. A little research pointed out that these birds get that color on their head from eating corn that has a lot of rust in it. It was the first one like this that I’d ever seen.





Summary of Texas Waterfowl Hunting

I miss hunting Texas waterfowl – especially the ducks. I love the wide variety of weather conditions we have for duck hunting in Texas. I’m enjoying my change from a hunting club to a wilder public hunt location on a local river. I’ve developed an easily portable duck blind that allows me to setup almost anywhere I find ducks to hunt. While I do know that a duck blind is important, I also think that’s it’s easy to over do it and not give enough priority to the spread, sitting still and waiting until they commit. I also enjoy goose hunting in Texas – particularly for the unique birds among the large flocks. I miss hunting Texas waterfowl and can’t wait until it starts up again in September.


Texas Dove Hunting

The anxiously awaited opening day for Texas Dove Hunting Season has arrived.  It’s almost a right of passage here in Texas.  In fact, since they make Cinco de Mayo a school holiday, they should make Opening Day of Texas Dove Hunting Season a holiday as well – how else are we going to get our kids out hunting?  They dove hatch in Texas this year was tremendous – despite the drouth.  Generally speaking, we have two kinds of birds.  Whitewings, which used to roost in the Rio Grande Valley, have migrated and tend to concentrate in the large trees in towns in a band from Hondo in the West to Houston in the East.  This band of cities extends as far North as Austin as well.  These birds are here mostly year round.  The Mourning doves tend to be more migratory and a weather change can easily push them further South.

Sunflower Fields for Texas Dove Hunting

Dove Hunting in a Texas Sunflower Field
Sunflower Field for Doves

Sunflower fields are ideal places to hunt doves in Texas.  Many farmers and ranchers actually plant fields of sunflowers to either improve their own chances of hunting success or to provide some hunting lease income to an already starved agricultural income picture.  The doves tend to flock to seed fields early in the morning just as they come off the roost so a slightly shady spot near a tree line underneath their flight path is a great location for a Texas dove hunt.




Hot Dog Hunting Doves

Cooling Off the Texas Dove Retriever
Keeping The Dove Retriever Cool

Opening day is September 1.  It is still HOT in Texas and a dog can make all the difference when Texas dove hunting in a seed field.  I tried an experiment this year.  I purchased a kiddie/doggie bath and a 15 gallon water barrel for my truck.  When I arrive at the field, I use the water barrel to fill the doggie bath with a few inches of water to keep the dog cool.  The results were exceptional.  Her endurance and number of retrieves practically doubled!







Hunting Doves from Town

Hunting Texas Doves
Barren Ground in the Dove Flyway

If you can find the flight path, and a willing land owner, where the town birds – Whitewings usually – are returning to town in the evening from feeding in the seed fields, you’re going to have a consistently great hunt.  No matter the weather, those birds are going out to feed mid-day and they are going to have to return to town to roost.  Early season shoots will present you with low, fast shots and after the birds have wised up to your location, you’re going to be presented with some tall, towering shots at 40-60 yards.  If you find a location like this – keep it a secret!


Low Flying Flocks of Doves

Flock of Whitewing Doves in Texas
Texas Whitewing Doves

Early in the season, the doves haven’t wised up so you’re going to be presented with a lot of low flying flocks of doves to hunt.  Open your chokes and be careful of who’s hunting around you.  Enjoy the rock n roll aspect of Texas Dove Hunting!







Tall Birds

Evening Flight of Texas Whitewing Doves
Flock of Texas Doves

Later in the season, after they’ve wised up a bit, you will see the flocks spread out and get taller.  Tighten your choke, increase your load size and grab plenty of lead.  This kind of Texas dove hunting is my absolute favorite!







Evening Hunt at the Water Hole

Ponds Attract Texas Whitewing Doves
Hunting Doves Around a Pond

Doves need water to help them digest the seeds they eat.  They tend to spend morning and mid day feeding on loose seed in the fields.  In the evening, a water hole can be an amazing place to hunt as they drop by for a drink of water prior to returning to the roost.  It’s been a very dry year in Texas and water can be hard to find.  If and when you do find it, use your Mojo decoys and grab some good camo for some amazing low shots.  This type of Texas dove hunting is classic.  Just make sure that your hunting buddies are arranged properly around you and be careful when they go out to pick up their birds.


Ready to Hunt Doves

Hunting Doves in Texas
Dove Hunter and Retriever Ready for Doves

Good camo and a comfortable stool can make a big difference on your Texas dove hunt.  They seem to be slightly sensitive to lighter colors but they are very sensitive to movement.  They key is to be absolutely still as they come in – don’t shoot too quick.







Hunting Dog Alert

Ready to Retrieve Doves
Alert for Doves

My Brit is three years old this year and this is her third season.  She has really matured well.  It can be tough to watch all of the directions and around a water hole, the birds can, and will, come from almost any direction.  I noticed that she will alert me to birds when she sees them.  My alert is is that she stops panting.  When I hear that, I simply glance to see where she’s looking and there will almost always be a bird there.  Well, almost always.  She has a tendency to alert to dragon flies and any type of bird in general but that’s OK, better safe than sorry I think.  Hunting with a good dog has definitely changed my perspective on Texas dove hunting.



Water Retrieves

Texas Dove Hunting Water Retrieve
Water Retrieving a Texas Dove

If you’re going to hunt a water hole – a classic method of Texas dove hunting – then you have to be prepared to drop some birds in the water.  Don’t leave them there!  Either peel your britches, bring some waders or get a good dog.








Dry Water Holes

Cut Wheat Fields Attract Whitewing Doves in Texas
Hunting Doves in Cut Wheat Field

This was a new one for me this year.  We we Texas dove hunting on a dry water hole between town and an irrigated cotton field.  The morning hunt had the birds coming from town and stopping at the DRY water hole before continuing on to the cotton field.  The evening hunt had many of the birds stopping at the dry water hole when traveling from the cotton fields back into town.  It was DRY!  I can only guess that habit may be a very strong motivator in doves.




Tired Dog

Tired Dove Retriever
Tired Dove Hunting Dog

My dog and I were very excited about this year’s Texas  dove hunting.  I hunted my dog 8 hunts over 5 days on opening weekend and then four hunts over 3 days the next weekend.  On average, she pulled 30+ retrieves per hunt with some as high as 50.  No, those weren’t all my birds!  By the end of the second weekend, this dog was pooped!  That said, she never failed to answer the call to load in the truck or fetch a retrieve.  I tried something new this year from Elements Nutrition and I highly recommend it.  You can’t order it online.  You have to talk to Todd to understand how to use it and how to adapt your feeding procedures to get the most out of it.  If he doesn’t think you’ll use it right, he won’t sell it to you.  I highly recommend it!


Dove Hunting Limits

Two Limits after Hunting Dove in Texas
Two Limits of Texas Dove

I want  to say something about limits and how we measure the enjoyment of our hunts.  The daily limit for Texas dove hunting is 15 birds.  I’m always amazed when people report “how their hunt went” by the count of birds in their bag.  Sure, it’s nice to limit.  But a limit is also disappointing – to me anyway.  It means the hunt is over for the day.  I’ve come to understand that the true value of the hunt is the time I spend with friends, the great shots I made, the lessons I learned and the way my dog training pays off by her performance.  I’ve learned to respond to “how was your hunt?” by saying “plenty of birds and plenty of shots.”



The True Value of a Texas Dove Hunt

Texas Dove Hunt Sunset
One Reason we Hunt Dove in Texas

How many times do we neglect to take the time to watch a sunrise or sunset?  How often to we spend time with friends and neglect to ask the really interesting questions?  How often to we train our dogs but fail to revel in her performance in the field?  Too often I think.






Texas Dove Hunting Summary

Texas Dove Hunting is amazing – definitely worth waiting for.  The time spent with friends, the anticipation of birds and bag limits, the tricky shots that you do (or don’t) make, the performance of a well trained dog, the laughter and wonder of kids on their first hunt – all make it worth waiting for.  Texas dove hunting is not to be missed.




Week 2 in the Surrogator

Seven wild quail chicks died during the second week so the count in the Surrogator is now down to 103.


The two week old wild quail appear to be very healthy and growing quickly.


There also appears to be plenty of room for them in the surrogator.


My bird dog appears to be particularly interested in the process – imagine that!




I’ve also scouted the location for Round 2 of surrogating wild quail. Next week I will take some extra time and clear the brush in Location #2.

Feeling like you walked in on the middle of a conversation?  Read about Week 1 in the Surrogator



Get caught up on the wild quail chicks’ experience in the surrogator: