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Dove Hunting in Texas With Shotguns

Wesman Todd Shaw grew up dove hunting in Texas starting at age twelve.

A spotted dove—this article covers hunting them in Texas.

A spotted dove—this article covers hunting them in Texas.

Dove Hunting Season In Texas

Dove hunting season in Texas starts on September the first of each and every year in the Central Zone of Texas where I live, and lasts until October the twenty-third. For southern regions of Texas the season starts a bit later.

Bag limits of doves for Texas dove hunters in EVERY region are fifteen doves per day, and no one is allowed to possess more than thirty doves at one time. It is very important to note that at no time shall a hunter in any Texas region possess out of the fifteen daily limit of total doves more than four Mourning Doves, and two White Tipped Doves.

It basically comes down to this: You can't shoot more than fifteen doves in a day, and you can't have more than thirty in your possession.

Listen guys and gals, hunting and not eating your kill is stupid. If you knock down fifteen doves—clean them, cook them, and eat them that night. Then the next day you are good to go after it again at will. If you kill fifteen doves one day and then fifteen the next—hey, clean the birds, freeze the meat, and give it to someone that wants to eat it.

If you want to increase the levels of appreciation for hunting, you've got to spread the love around and feed some people. If you are good at dove hunting, don't be greedy. Give some dove away and go hunt some more dove. It's up to we-the-people to preserve our rights under this corruption of a US government. Nobody is interested except for us hunters in preserving the rights that government did not give us—GOD gave us, the right to bear arms and be free persons in the USA.

Texas dove hunting

Texas dove hunting

Shotguns and Loads

What makes dove hunting such an attractive sport for hunters is that doves are rather fast and difficult to hit. When choosing a gun to go dove hunting, any shotgun will do, and you should only use your personal budget and your skill level for shooting decide for you what to use.

I have personally always used a twenty gauge shotgun dove hunting, and I've always used just a single shot shotgun at that. I'm not bragging, I'm only saying that a single shot for a kill requires me as a hunter to be on my toes - there's absolutely no chance at all that I'll be able to re load and fire again before the doves that I'd just fired at are out of the area. The only possible way for me to go one level up for the challenge would be for me (or anyone) to go down a gauge to a 410 gauge single shot shotgun.

So basically, if you have very poor shooting skills, or you are, in fact, desperate to feed yourself on dove meat - then a semi auto twelve gauge is the gun for you. I personally would consider using either a pump action twelve gauge, or my bolt action twelve gauge for dove hunting, as I've not been hunting in a while, and my skills are bound to be rusty.

Number 8 Birdshot Shotgun Shell

Number 8 Birdshot Shotgun Shell

So far as loads are concerned I would only use number eight bird shot for dove hunting. It only takes a couple or even one well aimed (lucky!) pellet to down a dove, and there are so many pellets in a number eight bird shot round that a well placed shot within range will always be sufficient. I'm not able to speak for the strength of anyone's shoulder, but it's plain to see that high powered rounds are going to have more and hotter powder, and much more of a kick, and especially in larger gauges like a sixteen gauge or a twelve gauge.

A Synthetic Rubber Pad For a Shotgun

A Synthetic Rubber Pad For a Shotgun

I started dove hunting when I was just twelve years old, and I was hunting then with my Harrington and Richardson single shot twenty gauge - the same one I'd most likely use today. I was a rather small young man at twelve years, but you wouldn't have been able to tell me that I shouldn't use the high powered rounds. I wound up having to purchase a rubber cushion for my gun, and the thing lasted for over twenty years. I'm certain that I'm such a tough buzzard now that I'd no longer need such a thing.

A Nice Semi-Auto Twelve-Gauge Shotgun

A Nice Semi-Auto Twelve-Gauge Shotgun

A Single-Shot 410 Gauge Shotgun—For Youths or Superior Dove Hunters

A Single-Shot 410 Gauge Shotgun—For Youths or Superior Dove Hunters

Clothing and Dove Hunting

In order to understand dove hunting one must understand doves. Doves are seed eating birds, and they have keen eyesight that allows them to spy hunters from above. Concealment, then, is the key thing in dove hunting. The best spots to be in are just under a small rise with a view to an open pasture, and the best clothes to wear are all camouflage.

Dove hunters wishing themselves any degree of success must be out and in position for the hunt before dawn. Doves roost at night in trees, and then right around dawn will fly from their roosts towards an open pasture to feed all day - so daybreak is the best time of day to hunt for doves. Open fields or meadows are preferable to bush land as doves do not have strong legs, and prefer areas to feed where they do not have obstacles to get around, scouting out a place for the hunt the evening before hunting in an unfamiliar territory is a must. Be assured that doves aren't brainless birds, and after hunters have made their presence well known with loud shotgun blasts, the birds will find another place to be.

Binoculars are very useful! Camouflage is a must!

Lastly, after the morning hunt period is done, the next best time to hunt doves is after three p.m., when the doves will seek to roost in the trees for a break from the sun. Weather conditions and other factors, including other hunters, will affect dove behavior.

The best hunters always scout out the hunt area and follow dove behavior in the area before hunting the next day. I well realize that this isn't always feasible due to economics and time constraints.

I hope these basic tips have been useful to you, and happy hunting!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Is lead shot legal for hunting doves in Texas?

Answer: Yes, it is currently legal, but I believe the laws change next year. So it is legal in 2018. In 2019, if my understanding is correct, it no longer will be.


Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on June 01, 2012:

Hey tnorth2112, I'd eat common pigeon, they're bound to be similar to chicken!!! Truth be told, I'm not a picky eater at all!!!!

Hey I'm in Texas, are you sure your bag limits are relative to here???

tnorth2112 on June 01, 2012:

A common pigeon is a rock dove and very tasty.

Wes you've got a minor error at the top. The only time your bag limit is restricted on mourning dove is in the special white wing zone. You can have 15 daily/30 possession and all mourning dove everywhere else.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 22, 2012:

Edwin Brown - and if I can ever manage to afford a vacation down that way for that purpose, then I'd love to give it a shot!!!!

Edwin Brown from Oregon, USA on February 22, 2012:

I have watched some videos about dove hunting in Argentina.

I think any American shooting doves there is going to be spoiled forever!

For me, it's a question of dinero - lastima que no tengo suficiente. Ha Ha, but true.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 22, 2012:

CARLOS ARROYO - Thanks for your comment! Because it is related to the topic, I don't mind you advertising in the least, and I wish you luck in your business endeavours.

Happy Hunting!

CARLOS ARROYO on February 22, 2012:

Hi,how are you ! I have a business of hunting in Cordoba Argentina, I want some representative in the united states where We can offer my services. ( Dove Hunting )

I have two lodges in the field, up to 15 fully equipped hunters, wi fi, satellite TV, AC, heating and we have toyota hilux and Dodge Ram 4 x 4.

I have a bigger roost of 700 hectares to 5 minutes from the lodge. and we have new URICA Beretta shotguns. to rent, we also provide 20 and 12 cartridges. it necessary

if you can check our website ( we have 10 years working on the site,

we have very good prices for ouffitters,the hunters can shoot , 3000 or more per day depend the hunter.we have reference in usa if you need to Know more about us , thanks for you time

Carlos Arroyo


Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on December 05, 2011:


Great story Edwin!!!!!!!!!!! You ought to join this site, and tell them tales!

Edwin Brown from Oregon, USA on December 05, 2011:

The regular "barn pigeon" was common in Oklahoma as I was growing up there. They hung around grain elevators and cotton gins. In cities, they were a nuisance on the buildings. Once, my brothers and I found an old abandoned house in the country, full of barn pigeons. We blocked the hole in the roof, then went up into the attic from inside and had a heyday with our BB guns. We must have taken home 8 or 10. Plucked and cleaned 'em and Mom cooked em up. Delicious.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on December 02, 2011:

We have 3 species of dove here in southeastern Georgia. The mourning dove--which we are mainly discussing here--the turtle dove, a smaller species similar in color to the mourning dove--and the collared dove, or ringneck as it's know in these parts.

We have a mourning dove season here with no season and no limits on the invasive ringnecks. I still say some folks are confusing mourning dove with the white doves used in magician's tricks as evidenced by some of the comment above. LOL!

And pigeons are merely large dove, or vice versa.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on December 02, 2011:

You know what I've always wondered about eating? Pigeons! Those things ...look like giant doves to me!

Couldn't be too bad, right? I ....just never see them except for in cities.

Edwin Brown from Oregon, USA on December 01, 2011:

In OK, we called mourning doves "turtle doves" because when they are walking around feeding on the ground, they do look a little like turtles. I had to move to Oregon to be told they were "mourning doves."

Out here on the West Coast, we now have the "collared dove" which is an invasive species from Europe and Asia. Never mind, I plan on shooting them also. They are bigger than the mourning doves. I have heard that Texas and OK (along other states) have lots of these.

I think it might be tricky knowing which dove you are shooting at when they fly by. You have so many kinds in Texas.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on December 01, 2011:

Hey thank you for the awesome comment, Mr. Brown!!!!

I'm in Texas, and I don't know if we have Turtle Doves here. I think the biggest part of them are Mourning Dove.

I hadn't always known that the seasons were set with limits of ...different species of Dove...cause I didn't know we had more than one.

Lots of stuff I don't know! Oh well, nothing to do but try and pay attention!

I sort of wonder how often a game warden around here gives someone a ticket for having too many of one kind of dove...while still being withing the tag limit.

Oh well, if they're out to get someone they'll find a reason, and if they're not out to get you for a reason, then they've already found one.

Edwin Brown from Oregon, USA on November 29, 2011:

Great fun reading about dove hunting. I did lots of that as a kid in Oklahoma and Kansas. They were pretty thick there.

I used my 12 gauge shotgun single shot I bought from my dad.

But, when I was in grade school, we hunted turtle doves with slingshots and rocks. In town doves were pretty common, and kinda dumb, so you could sneak up on them and pot them. We cleaned them ourselves and gave them to Mom. When we had enough for a meal, then she fried them and then pressure cooked the ones that were a little tough - the older birds. I think they are delicious.

As I got older and hunted with a shotgun, I would often muse that I probably expended a far greater weight of lead shot than the meat of the birds I shot. Didn't stop me from shooting as much as my limited budget would allow.

50 Caliber from Arizona on September 14, 2011:

@ Randy Godwin, we have a lot of Gamble's quail and we do have some Bob White as well and I had to look that up, I knew that I shot bob white on occasion but didn't know what the main critter I shoot was. They are ground walkers and on rainy days huddle under grease wood bushes/trees and will jump fly over small arroyos and if you get two or three walking up the arroyos it's like ping pong, they fly a short jump back and forth and as the two or three ravines get wider the jump shooting kinda peters out because of the wider area they stop making it all the way back into your path. If you can hit as a decent shot, you are probably going to be at or near limit. I hunt off a dirt road near Casa Grande, Arizona and have been since a kid, the road runs to Kelvin so it was accessible to us by following the rail road access road to it when I didn't have a drivers license to take the 41 Willis jeep on the pavement. It has been a good hunt for quail and cotton tail rabbit for dang near 50 years. I just never thought about what kind, we just were hunting quail,

Peace Dusty

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on September 14, 2011:

Man some of those air rifles are FUN!

I know a guy that has an automatic one that can fire ten .22 caliber pellets at a HUGE velocity per second.

And even the felons can own one of those things now - before the feds crack down on THAT too, of course.

KC Santiago from Texas on September 14, 2011:

Never had dove. Love quail and grouse though. If I got a good air rifle the doves line up on the electrical wire in the alley. Wouldn't even have to leave the back porch hehehe.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on September 05, 2011:

Watch this and you won't want to eat meat . . . .from the store ever again.

Patricia Shaw on September 05, 2011:

Good writing equals great read! I remember all the Tarpley uncles and Grandpa going dove hunting and bringing it home for Grandma to prepare for dinner. She and the aunts made quite a feast of it! Good memories.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on September 05, 2011:

I'm intending to write about the Bob Whites soon!!! (plan to, anyway.)

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on September 05, 2011:

@Dusty-I do the dove breast wrapped in bacon thing too! But I also dip them in Italian dressing before plopping them on the grill.

I don't know if you have Bob White quail where you live Dusty, but they taste better than any other species or subspecies of quail. Like the difference in a wild turkey breast and a farm raised turkey breast.

I still love to hunt the fantastical flying mourning dove for pure wing shooting sport. Makes clay shooting seem tame in comparison.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on September 05, 2011:

I think all arguments against hunting anything fall flat when people eat factory farmed meat, where animals are treated cruel as the rule and stuffed full of chemicals.

Dove's never knew what hit them when shot, and it's got to be better for you to eat than factory chicken or turkey, and especially in light of the monsterous eugenicist and Monsanto cancer monger that Obama put in the totally fascist and criminal FDA. . . .

mib56789 on September 05, 2011:

People hunt doves?

50 Caliber from Arizona on September 05, 2011:

Wesman, you hit the nerve of them that don't understand the shear numbers of Dove on the farm field in the west.

Along the Colorado river between California and Arizona south of I-10 there are fields that on opening having 100s of thousands, same with along the irrigation canals. They fly in uber numbers and I use a 12 guage over and under Browning 28 inch field gun, 1 modified and one full choke barrel, the single trigger fires the modified first and full second. I take bacon tooth picks and a charcoal grill and after limiting out we clean them, wrap the breast in a half slice of thin sliced bacon, secure with a tooth pick and grill, break fast! and the evidence of limit is at the turd factory and the left over feathers and other useless parts gone, so we are open to jumping them up or waiting for evening roosts to go again some more.

Dove in flight definitely the more challenging shot, Quail I get on the rise off the ground like skeet shooting, I find easier. Cant say I like one better taste wise than the other, both cooked right are much better than crow [yep I eat crow].

Those worried with the hunt need to realize that left to their own the over population of them would damage crops and ruin the availability of vegetarians supply of whole grains from the seeding until the bearing of the heads of grain.

I have [one time], in El Centro California, been covered in bird crap as the largest swarm of dove I ever saw took flight in a cloud over us, I guess their morning constitutional was due. When and if you ever get to see that many birds [of any kind over fly you, safety glasses and hunting with your mouth shut while looking up is a really, really good idea. Safety glasses should always be used with side shields in a place where pellets are flying from every gun around, the Dick Cheney type guys are generally close enough to pepper you on opening day, it may just sting and bounce off your shirt and hide, but will hurt an eye ball even when it's at a falling rate of speed. So if I tell you something tastes like bird poop, I'm not kidding, LOL. After opening morning they get smart, if they see you with a broom stick they'll turn making the second and further days much harder to fill your limit. I see good comments on this from Randy up there as well. No dove hunt for me this year, gas is too high and found no buddies that were going to split cost with and I prefer a bullet for 75 or better pounds of meat. I saw my first Fallow deer this year, had heard rumors they were planted and the one I saw was albino to boot! When I finish this roll of film I'll either mail you a look or hub on them, awesomely beautiful critters with awesome looking antlers sort of like moose but smaller and different. It was my first and I didn't know what it was had to Google critters until I found it. I also got a picture with a phone camera, the phone part don't work but the camera did, I'm still trying to figure, as I thought they were Antelope in a place they don't frequent during the Monument fire here in AZ while I was out scouting to see if there would be any survivors to hunt.

Oh, yeah, this is about dove, Peace, Dusty

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on September 05, 2011:

Hi Wes, I'm happy to hear that you don't hunt doves anymore. Doves are a beautiful and symbolic bird.

LOL at Randy Godwin's comment!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on September 04, 2011:

HA! Definitely. Actually, he'd best not go with me :=\

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on September 04, 2011:

I'd rather eat quail than dove any day, so that's the real reason for hunting them. Just don't go quail hunting with Dick Cheney! LOL!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on September 04, 2011:

I saw that picture!!!!

I must be doing quail wrong!

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on September 04, 2011:

Quail? Too easy to shoot on the rise in my opinion, but to each his own. Plenty of both wild hogs and turkey here. Took a photo of a piebald deer today. Beautiful animal, the first I've ever observed in my life.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on September 04, 2011:

Hey thanks, Randy!!!!!

Do you think Dove Hunting is more challenging than quail????

I'd always had a heck of a lot more success with Dove than quail.

I WANT to go wild turkey or feral hog hunting. Folks will PAY YOU to hunt hogs on their land here in Texas.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on September 04, 2011:

Shot over 100 rounds yesterday on opening day, WTS! My favorite wing shooting sport because it is such a challenge. The wind was whipping which made it even harder to hit the elusive little feathered missiles.

I have a video I made last year to put on my own similar hub but haven't gotten around to it yet. I sure needed an extra pad yesterday as my shoulder is too sore to go to tomorrows morning shoot.

Pay no attention to those who don't understand the balance between having too many of one species and not enough. Hunters are responsible for our country's excellent control of our wildlife species. Never feel you have to apologize for a hunter's part in balancing nature.

Most of those complaining don't understand the difference between a white dove, used in magician's tricks, and a mourning dove, which may damage important food crops.

Enjoyed the read!


Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on September 04, 2011:

I totally understand. I don't hunt them anymore, and haven't in years.

I'm just . . . .seriously impoverished and trying to make money on the web :=\

Sueswan on September 04, 2011:

The dove is a symbol of love and peace.

Disturbing to me that these birds are hunted.

I guess from a hunter's point of view, they are just another bird that can provide food.