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Biologist offers local dove-hunting forecast
Lonesome Dove Fest offers
two shooting events
As part of the annual Lonesome Dove Fest, held each year at the Karnes County Fairgrounds, a team sporting clays competition is held. This year, the Karnes County Rotary Club, the event’s organizers, will host a second shooting competition, allowing the many oil and gas companies in the area to compete for bragging rights, and a traveling trophy to be put back on the line each year.
In addition to this new event, the Lonesome Dove Fest will also feature its annual team shooting competition. The walk through sporting clays event is open to men, women, and youth; and prizes will be awarded in each division.
For more information, call 830-780-3112.
By Ryan Darr
Hot and dry to cool and wet and back again! Throw in a few hundred oil rigs and you have our story here in Karnes and Wilson counties over the past few years.
The abundant rainfall drenching the area in 2010 offered much-needed relief to our wildlife and their habitats suffering from dry conditions in 2009. As a result, many hunters were provided with excellent hunting opportunities during the 2010-11 season. Other hunters did not so easily achieve success, however, as dense cover, an abundance of natural food sources, and lingering impacts from the 2009 drought often made finding game difficult. A new factor also came into play that impacted hunting across Karnes and Wilson counties last year -- oil and gas development.
Most of these counties are within or near the Eagle Ford shale that has experienced an unprecedented boom in mineral exploration since early 2010. Seismic work, drilling rigs, fracturing activity, pipelines, and increased automobile traffic undoubtedly impacted the regular patterns of game in this area.
As we moved into 2011, we also began to see a drying trend and experienced one of the driest spring seasons on record. We continue to face drought and increased mineral exploration activity as we move toward the 2011-12 hunting season.
Karnes and Wilson counties were traditionally known for excellent dove hunting and continue to provide great hunting opportunities in certain areas. The counties saw exceptional white-wing and mourning dove production in 2010, providing a strong number of adults coming into the 2011-12 season. We have also seen a great increase in the number of exotic, Eurasian-collared dove in Karnes and Wilson counties.
You can expect doves to heavily depend on non-natural food sources (i.e. crop fields) this year, due to low availability of natural dove forages. To maximize hunting success this year, focus your early season hunting efforts near standing or harvested crop fields.
In the late season, much of the remnants from harvested crop fields will no longer be available and doves will likely move to what natural forages exist. Center your late-season dove hunting efforts on native pastures covered with an abundance of doveweed, ragweed, sunflowers, and other tall, weedy plants that produce large seeds favored by doves. Avoid improved pastures with dense grass cover, as these areas provide little food to attract doves.
You may also consider centering your hunting activities around ponds where doves fly to pick up grit and find water. When hunting near ponds, avoid using lead shot, as waterfowl using the area will mistakenly consume the lead and can succumb to its toxicity.
The numbers of most waterfowl species have increased on breeding grounds in the northern United States and southern Canada over the past few years. These same waterfowl migrate from their northern breeding grounds and settle in southern areas including Karnes and Wilson counties during the winter months. Wintering waterfowl are common on ponds and wetlands throughout Karnes and Wilson counties. However, the area’s rivers and creeks also provide habitat for certain waterfowl species.
The extreme drought in 2009, coupled with little runoff in 2010, and another drought in 2011, has greatly reduced water levels in ponds and other wetlands around the county. Waterfowl populations using the immediate area have declined as a result. Many small farm ponds have dried and no longer provide waterfowl habitat. At the same time, however, slow water level reduction in larger ponds has exposed shoreline vegetation and created excellent wintering waterfowl habitat.
Focus your 2010--11 teal and dabbling duck hunting efforts on larger farm ponds and water impoundments with gently sloped sides and abundant vegetation near the water’s edge. Look for geese and sandhill cranes on any expansive, shallow wetlands (1-3 feet deep) remaining in the counties. With the reduction in available waterfowl habitat, note that pre-season scouting is important to help ensure a successful hunt.
Before hunting waterfowl, make sure you obtain the required Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp and Federal Sandhill Crane Hunting Permit in addition to your Texas hunting license.
Ryan Darr is the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist assigned to cover both Wilson and Karnes counties. For more information on Texas hunting laws and regulations, visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us.
Get your limit,
then get cooking!
• 10-15 dove breasts (off bone)
• 2/3 cup Italian dressing
• 1/2 bottle of Shiner Bock beer or other of preference
• 1/2 --1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 tsp of salt
Mix dressing, beer, and seasonings of choice to taste in large bowl or zip top storage bag. Add in the dove breasts and coat completely. Marinate for 3-4 hours in refrigerator. Remove breasts from marinade (keep the marinade, though) and grill on medium heat until light brown. Move doves into a pot, and add the leftover marinade. If more liquid needed, consider adding a little red wine at this point. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes to thicken. Allow to cool and enjoy.
• 10-15 dove breasts (off bone)
• 5 strips of bacon
• 5 fresh jalapenos
• 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
• 1/2 cup cream cheese
• 5 skewers for grilling
Slice fresh jalapenos in half lengthwise; remove seeds.
Mix cheddar and cream cheeses together, and stuff into peppers. Place a piece of dove breast over the cheese mixture, and wrap with a 1/2 slice of bacon. Place “poppers” onto skewers . Grill until the bacon is cooked and the jalapeno is lightly charred. Enjoy!
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