Lakecaster Online

Wade Middleton

As summer begins to fade we all know that signals the beginning of another hunting season. For me this starts with dove season and wraps up with late season Turkey hunts mixed between deer, duck, quail and goose hunting. But it all starts every year with dove hunting. This time honored tradition that kicks off on the first day of September every year in parts of Texas and then again towards that later third of the month in South Texas is as much a social outing as it a hunt. This year much like the past three years I'll be heading west of San Antonio toward Hondo and the Nooner Ranch (www.noonerranch.com) for my opening day dove hunt. That area between San Antonio and Uvalde probably is the largest concentration of Whitewings in Texas and all told there will be probably 50,000 hunters spread out along that line on opening day laughing, missing, and telling lies.

Over the last ten years the whitewing has become very plentiful all across central and south Texas and has even began to show in numbers as far north as Dallas over the last couple of years. While many folks don't like to hunt whitewings preferring the sleeker smaller mourning doves over their larger cousins the whitewing I feel those that don't mix in both mouning and whitewing hunts are missing out. Personally, I love to hunt whitewings early in the season as they provide a more of a reliable pattern and very sporty shooting not to mention great table fare. These birds can really flock into fields in large numbers and when you find them they work that field until either the hunting pressure or lack of food moves them out. Whereas the mourning seems to have more of a I'm here today but think I'll go over here tomorrow persona thus often leaving your scouting efforts in the dust. Both make tasty table fare and the whitewing is actually a bit bigger so you get a bite or two more of them. The whitewing tends to fly more in larger flocks than the mourning dove and when there is a large population in the area you'll generally find that when you find one flock they'll be many flocks so your more often than not guaranteed lots of shooting.

As far as flight patterns the mourning dove tends to fly a more of a terrain hugging pattern like fighter jet whereas the whitewing tends to fly in large groups that seem to be in constant motion one way or the other as they move into a field. Mouring doves seem to come into a field from all angles and will often move in and out over single trees or breaks in the tree line whereas whitewings tend to follow a more predictable I'm coming into the field on this line and all the rest will often follow. All bets are off once the birds of either species get into a field as they fly from one end to the others. Generally speaking I prefer 7 or 8 shot with a Improved Cylinder choke for early season mourning doves and then will often switch to a tighter Modified choke later in the season when the birds get a bit more gun shy. As for Whitewings I like to use either 6 or 7 shot on these bit larger birds and I prefer the Modified choke over the Improved choke as the whitewings tend to fly high when working into a field to feed before dipping down quickly to land and feed.

As for places to hunt there are many locations now being provided by Texas Parks and Wildlife under a program designed to provide locations to hunt to the public. You can find out more at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website. The cost is minimal and with scouting and luck you can have some great hunts at these locations. Other options are day leases. You can pick up a paper from any major news paper out of Houston, San Antonio or Dallas and find several day leases listed within the classified. However this a buyer beware situation. I‘ve been burned and I‘ve burned many a shell on these type of hunts so spend time running down the leads before spending your money. One last way to help your success is spend time on the internet checking out outfitters and ranchers to see what the best deal. .

One last note Fishing and Hunting Texas has made a major network and can now be seen every Sunday on FOX Sports Southwest 8:00. You can also watch all the shows online at www.outdooraction.com. Just click on Fishing and Hunting Texas and then head to the archives to watch your favorite episodes.

Wade Middleton is the host of Fishing and Hunting Texas and a longtime fishing and hunting guide and tournament angler. You can reach Wade at WadeMiddleton@aol.com or catch Fishing and Hunting Texas on one of the many networks that air it nationwide. For more information go to www.carecomultimedia.com or contact Wade at his e-mail address at WadeMiddleton@aol.com

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