The first day of September is still a few weeks away, but the legions of Texas dove hunters are already counting down the days.

The opener this year is on a Sunday, which is a little different but Labor Day is on Sept. 2 so most hunters will have an extra day to chase doves.

The aforementioned legion of dove hunters numbers over 300,000 (we are serious about our dove hunting). Texans are also responsible for taking over 10 million mourning doves annually. This is roughly one third of all the doves harvested in the entire US.

These numbers do not include whitewings.

Texas is also home to a breeding population of some 34 million mourning doves and 10 million whitewings. These numbers dramatically increase once the birds start to migrate to winter here. Add to these numbers the Eurasian Collared doves and its surprising the Texas harvest isn’t more.

After spending an afternoon missing dozens of birds, the numbers seem to be a little more legit.

The limit for doves this year is unchanged as well as the “zones” set up by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

The regular dove season in the North Zone runs Sept. 1-Nov. 12 and resumes Dec. 20-Jan.5, 2020. The regular season in the Central Zone is Sept. 1-Nov. 3, then resumes Dec. 20-Jan.14, 2020. The regular season in the South Zone is Sept. 14-Nov. 3 and Dec. 20-Jan. 23, 2020. The Special White-Winged Dove Days in the South Zone are Sept. 1-2 and 7-8.

Check out the TP&W handbook or website for definitions of each zone and plan accordingly for your chosen hunting area. The Collared doves are considered a pest and there is no limit for these birds. Therefore these birds will not count against your daily bag.

The entire state enjoyed perfect conditions for dove production this spring. Once hatched and fledged, the young doves had plenty of food sources to flourish under. This means excellent recruitment and higher survival rate. The states to the north of Texas also experienced ideal conditions for dove production and should be sending larger numbers of birds our way once the migration begins.

The typical heat wave of August will concentrate doves at feeding and watering holes providing what could be a phenomenal September for dove hunters across the state.

Be sure to get proper licensing and endorsements. The 2019-2020 license went on sale Aug. 15 and are available online as well as retail. Hunter education is also required for hunters born after Sept. 1, 1971.