Fall is truly the greatest time of year if you live in South Texas and love to hunt and are also a sports fan. Football is starting with college and pro games, the baseball playoffs are about to start, the NBA season is starting and of course finally, its hunting season. This year is even more exciting for those of us who live and hunt south of HWY 90 and east of IH 35. Several years ago a special white wing season was created for an area in the South Zone that was West of IH 37 and south of Hwy 90. Also, the line that created the south and north zones was expanded around Loop 1604. This meant the line followed Hwy 90 from Del Rio to San Antonio, and instead of a straight line through the city and out IH 10 to Houston, it was expanded around the southern end of San Antonio along Loop 1604. Of course our ranch and where we hunt is in the south zone, but even though we could see IH 35 from the porch of our house perched on a hill, we couldn’t hunt because we are east of IH 35. Year after year the birds would come to the black jacks to eat Coma Tree berries that are usually ripe about the 1st of September. About the last week of August the trees and skies would be covered with birds and all white wings. White wing doves are a classy and more sophisticated bird than the morning dove. White wings live in the city and drink from people’s birdbaths and roost in their trees. Then every morning they get up and fly out to the country to eat and then fly back in the evening before dark. So for the last 5 to 6 years all these birds were coming to my house to eat but I could not hunt them, and people who had nothing to do with the birds being here could. Talk about the ultimate hunting frustration! By the time the south zone opened about the third week of September all the berries were eaten up and the birds were gone.
About three years ago I was able to get in touch with Cory Mason, the head of the Migratory Bird Division for Texas Parks and Wildlife. He came out to the ranch in the first part of September and we gave him a tour of our place several others showing him just how many birds were here and what they were eating and how everyone else could shoot them but us even though we were the reason they were here. He was very kind and made no promises but agreed with that it would be wise to move the arbitrary line around to another spot. Therein lies the problem because every time you create a line someone feels like they are getting a raw deal. This is also a federal decision and Texas is lumped together with 5 other states in a group that requests changes to things in their respective states. Even though we are the largest state in that group, and have the most hunting, you can only get so many change requests approved each year. The federal government’s biggest concern, and reason that the season across the state does not open up at the same time on the first of September, is because of a study that was done in the early 1970s. At that time the study found a lot of late nesting morning doves in South Texas. Therefore the season has always opened up later as to give the late nesting hatches a chance to mature so they could survive on their own.
Fast-forward to this year and the line has finally been moved from west of IH 35 to west of IH 37. This is going to be so much fun and has just added to the excitement of this time of year. Granted we can only hunt in the afternoons on the first two weekends, but beggars can't be choosers and at least we get to hunt. I sure hope everyone who loves the outdoors will get out and enjoy it and when you do take a kid with you to show them that there is more to life than video games.
Galatians 6:10 As we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.