2023 Dove Hunting Forecast

2023 Dove Hunting Forecast

Story by Bill L. Olson

At the beginning of the 2022 Dove Hunting Forecast I said, “next to the opening date for whitetail deer hunting season, September 1 maybe the most anticipated day for hunters.”  This year September 1 may be the most anticipated date simply to finally get closer to fall and move away from summer’s sweltering heat.

Once again I visited with Owen Fitzsimmons, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Webless Migratory Gamebird Program Leader, “The Dove Guy.”  He reminded once again that the annual survey numbers are really a reflection of recruitment of one year ago plus an estimate of this year’s nesting and survival success.

The short-best news is that numbers have rebounded from the killing freeze of Winter Storm Uri in February 2021.  Last year’s success combined with the successful nesting and survival this year should provide plenty of birds to hunt, plus set the stage for a continued increase of dove species numbers.

Fitzsimmons statewide assessment and regional forecast reported the following.


“MOURNING DOVE – This year’s statewide estimate is up 44 percent from last year.  This is the first year since 2017 that we broke above the long-term average.  Overall, we saw increases in every region of the state, with the largest increases in the Rolling Plains, Edwards Plateau, Oaks & Prairies, and Trans-Pecos ecoregions.

“What’s really great to see is that, on a regional basis, all ecoregions are above the long-term average, the exception being the High Plains.  In other words, the increased statewide estimate this year isn’t just one region doing really well, it’s all of them doing well.

“We had a decent spring last year, and, despite a very droughty summer, we had good hatches with some really productive late hatches in some areas which carried over to a good breeding population this spring.  We’re seeing good production this year, too, thanks to the mild and beautifully wet spring we had this year.  That bodes well for this hunting season and next breeding season.

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