Heat waves dance off the white rock road as I walk toward the Concho River. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch movement coming at me. Raising my Benelli, I match its angle and speed and pull the trigger, completing my follow-through like so many times before. I walk over and pick up my first Mourning Dove of the afternoon. 1 down, 14 to go. With any luck, some White-Winged Dove will be mixed into my bag as well before the end of the day. A few hours later, slightly sun-burnt and drenched in sweat, I pick up number 15. Most people would pack it in and would start making the long walk back at this time. But, not me. There was an hour left until sunset, and I know that’s when the real show begins.
Some of the Best Regions to Hunt in Texas
Go anywhere in the Lone Star State, and you’ll find that there is a hunt to be had at any time of the year. That old phrase “If you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait 5 minutes and it will change” could be reworded slightly to fit the hunting seasons. Teal season opens a week after the dove season, and deer season begins a few weeks after that. Later in October, it’s time to hunt quail. Deer and waterfowl can be hunted through January, and it’s not a short wait until the beginning of the turkey season. Hogs can be hunted year-round. It’s possible to hunt a different species almost every month. In Texas, it’s not just what you hunt, but where you hunt. Each region in Texas offers unique challenges and rewards, only you must decide which area to hunt next.
The Panhandle is the ideal spot to watch a Blue Norther roll into the state. The temperature drops as much as 25 degrees, and the sky turns black and blue. I think back to a duck hunt several years ago that took place on a lake in North Central Texas—the only region that gives the Panhandle a run for its money. Tucked back into a cove, our view is unobstructed from Mother Nature. At legal shooting light, we weren’t focused on the birds, but the sky to the North instead. Clouds were stretched out, engulfing the entire sky. Something remarkable and unexpected happened. The leading edge of the storm collided with first sunlight, creating a breathtaking sunrise. A massive, golden fireball at the center with trails of pinks, reds, oranges, and violets. Seconds later, the storm consumed the rays of the sun. Next came 2 hours of pure waterfowl frenzy as birds dive-bombed our cove, seeking cover from the weather. It was beautiful. The dangerous blue skies overhead and the colors of Gadwalls, Widgeons, and Green-Winged Teal in our face. Our own Mona Lisa, of sorts.
The Texas Hill Country and South Texas Plains are known as excellent places to harvest White-Tailed Deer, and rightfully so. However, don’t pass up an opportunity to venture out into the Piney Woods of the Eastern portion of the state. East Texas can easily produce 150” class and above deer. And as great as that is, it’s the terrain you might fall in love with the most. The high humidity coupled with quick fluctuation in temperatures creates vast rolling fields of fog. Huge pines fill the land, and once the fall season sets in, the oaks flash their famous colors for a short while. It’s a surreal feeling, surveying the land while sitting among all this scenery. It’s the unknown that gives this area its sense of mystery and enchantment.
The Crappie spawn begins in the springtime. If you’ve never fished the spawn, mark it down as a must do! It will quickly become your new favorite time of the year! And, of course, you will get to chase Thunder Chickens! Yes, that’s a real term. The rain is heavy this time of year. Trees regain their leaves lost from the winter and wildflowers bloom. The kaleidoscope of colors from Bluebonnets, the Indian Paintbrush, and Mexican Hats are beautiful, but they don’t compare to the colors a strutting gobbler produces during the mating season.
Turkey season in the Hill Country maybe the most perfect scenario out there.
It’s not every day that a bird can send a chill down your spine. Seeing one of these birds methodically stalk its way through the Blackjack Oaks or charging head strong across an open field of wildflowers is enough to make you forget the reason you were out here in the first place. The taste of fried wild turkey makes it all worthwhile.
My favorite time of year is when the sunset greets me out on the Concho River. The alarm on my phone rings, signaling the end of dove season in San Angelo State Park. About 5 minutes pass before the first wave makes its push. A huge wad of dove that had survived the frenzy of the season rushes back to their roost, using the twisting and turning curvature of the river as their guide back. With each passing moment, their size and frequency at which they come increase dramatically, to the point that they’re like mosquitos. The whistle of wings sounds like an emergency siren. Some birds stop in to get a final drink of water for the day, but most just want to reach the safety of home. I couldn’t blame them, I was pretty worn out myself. West Texas produces the best sunsets, and this evening was no different. The rugged cactus-covered land only enhanced the beauty of it. My dad was with me on this particular trip. Now tell me, who could ask for a better ending to the day than that?
Article by Wade Ringo