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News Articles

13
Time to gear up for season

By Gerard MacCrossan
The Daily Times
http://web.dailytimes.com/story.lasso?wcd=16782

Published August 13, 2005

The rain of the last few days is welcomed by many Hill Country residents, not least the wildlife who forage on flowers, fauna and other fruits of the earth.

Hunters will have their first expense of the fall hunting season starting Monday, when the 2005-06 Texas hunting license goes on sale. The hunting and fishing license has a varying price that depends on your target. This year, thanks to Texas legislators, migratory game birds such as dove and ducks, and upland game birds, including turkey and quail, have their own $7 stamps on the license, according to Capt. Scott Kruger of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Law Enforcement Division in Kerrville.

He said that is the most major change in the license this year, adding that anyone who wants to hunt in Texas must have a license, and anyone born after Sept. 1, 1971, needs to complete a hunter education course first.

The first hunter education course in Kerrville this fall starts Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Hill Country Shooting Sports Center. Instructor Bryant Truitt, who has taught hunter education for many years in Kerr County, will lead the class, Kruger said. The cost is $10, and no advance registration is necessary.

Checking on hunting licenses is a big part of the game warden’s job, but hunters have a big responsibility, too, to make sure they are hunting within the law.

Hunting licenses can be purchased Monday at the Texas Parks and Wildlife offices, sporting goods stores or online by linking through the TPWD Web site at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/ huntwild/

The seasons

The dove season is first for local hunters and begins Sept. 1. Kruger said most Kerr County hunters will see mourning dove, and possibly a few white wing as their targets. Bag limit on dove is a total of 12 per day.

Duck hunters will have to wait awhile to find out when that season begins, Kruger said. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and TPWD consult to set the dates following a population survey. Kruger said the season typically gets under way in late October and runs through January.

As well as making sure they are licensed, hunters need to practice safety beginning with their weapons.

Check weapons

Jeff Martin of Hill Country Arms said hunters usually first think of their shotguns in the middle of August just before bird season begins.

“That’s when the switch comes in,” he said.

His quick recommendations for preparing to dove hunt included getting the gun out at least two weeks in advance, cleaning barrels and chambers and lubricating choke tubes.

He also advised not buying cheap shells and warns hunters that mixing shells is a big mistake.

Kruger said that dove hunters, especially people who may have hunted quail last spring, need to insure they have put chokes in their shotguns. Federal law limits dove hunters to three shells at a time.

Preparing firearms before hunting isn’t exclusive to shotgunning. When the rifle hunts on white-tailed deer began in November, Kruger said it is good practice to be sure guns are correctly sighted in.

“You don’t want to be shooting for the chest and end up hitting further back,” he said, adding that a deer could be severely hurt but not sufficient to kill it. “You want to ensure a quick kill. The best thing to do is shoot your gun and be familiar with it.”

Kruger said the outlook for hunters is looking good this year as far as deer go. There are lots of fawns on the ground, he said.

With doves and duck, it still is hard to predict, Kruger said. The dove population is likely to be a normal for a Hill Country season. Better information on ducks will be available when the nesting surveys are complete, he said.

Gerard MacCrossan may be reached at gerard.maccrossan@dailytimes.com.

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