WOODS, WINGS & WATER: Wingshooters happy about more opportunity
It is way too hot to be thinking about sitting on a dove bucket or wiping the sweat from your brow on a September teal hunt.
Nevertheless, good times are on the horizon for wingshooters in the form of an expanded white-winged dove area, six-bird bag limit for bluewings and increased possession limits for all migratory game birds.
The special white-winged dove area extends eastward along its current boundary and continues south along Interstate 37 from San Antonio to Corpus Christi, effectively doubling its current size. This gives shotgunners, who would normally have to wait until the South Zone opener, even more opportunity to harvest wings.
The afternoon-only season runs Sept. 1-2 and 7-8 with a limit of 15 doves in the aggregate, to include no more than two mourners and two white-tipped doves.
Legal hunting hours are noon to sunset.
Regular dove season in the North and Central zones runs Sept. 1-Oct. 23 and Dec. 20-Jan. 5. The South Zone dove season is set for Sept. 20-Oct. 27 and Dec. 20-Jan. 20, with the season in the SWWDA Sept. 20-Oct. 23 and Dec. 20-Jan. 20.
The talk in the waterfowling community is an extra two birds in the bag for the Sept.14-29 teal season.
Blue-winged teal are second only to northern mallards in population density, so the pair of extra acrobats should prolong what can be a fast and furious blur of a hunt.
With the increased possession limit of all migratory game birds, hunters will now be able to hold in possession three times the daily bag limit.
For duck hunters with a bag limit of six, the possession limit is now 18 birds.
For dove hunters with a bag limit of 15, the possession limit is now 45.
The increased possession limit is especially applicable for those hunters on multiday waterfowl hunts, who, in the past, legally could not hunt if they possessed 12 processed birds.
Though the law can be tough to enforce by wardens, the law is the law, and most hunters try to abide by it.
More patrols, fewer drunks
If you think you saw more Texas game wardens than normal before the Fourth of July weekend, chances are you were right.
With the intent of reducing the number of boaters operating under the influence, game wardens checked more than 8,000 vessels and approximately 28,000 boaters during Operation Dry Water, a concentrated effort by law enforcement conducted prior to the holiday weekend, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website.
The emphasis of the crackdown is to show the importance of a designated driver on the boat, and even though more boaters hit the water on the Fourth of July than any other time of the year, game wardens said the saturation patrols accomplished their goals.
Though it is against the law to have an open container of alcohol while driving a motor vehicle, it is not against the law to have an open container of alcohol in a boat, where stakes can be higher when you factor in the variable of water.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (firstname.lastname@example.org).