Hunters took to the fields early on Sunday morning to try and bag the first dove of the season.
With dove season officially opening this weekend, Lubbock County Game Warden Mallory Mitchell is getting ready to go out and make sure everyone is following the rules and there are some pretty important ones to remember before heading out for the first hunt of the season.
"Before heading out the big thing is plugging your shotgun," Mitchell said. "A lot of people have shotguns that are capable of holding more than three shells. Huge deal, state law says you have to have a shotgun, a legal shotgun, which means a shotgun that can only hold three shells. What you do is you can put a plug in it, it has to be a one piece plug, a lot of people can even put a stick inside and make that your plug as long as its only three shells. The other thing is hunter education its mandatory for Texas hunters if you were born after September 2, 1971."
If you are wanting to go out hunting this weekend and don't have hunters education you can pay for a one-time deferral that covers you for the season.
Once you have your license and hunters education you have to find a place to hunt.
In Lubbock there are a lot of fields with grain that birds like but it is important to get permission from the landowner before taking a step onto their property to hunt.
"If you don't ask permission you run the biggest risk of getting shot yourself by someone that's already out there hunting or the landowner himself," Mitchell said. "Also there is the criminal charge. you go between trespassing onto agricultural lands is just a Class C misdemeanor. But if you go on with a shotgun or any other firearm it enhances it to a Class A misdemeanor. So more incentive not to be on someone else's property without permission to be there."
Now when it comes to how many dove you can take in a day and have on your person during a weekend there is a difference.
"The daily bag limit is how many birds in that entire day of legal hunting hours, so start to finish. So not 15 in the morning and 15 at night, it's that entire day. You're going to have a maximum of 15 the first day, 30 and then by the third day hunting you could potentially have a possession limit of 45. So that's a very big change to our laws that we've had."
A few other reminders Mitchell told us is that baiting a field for birds is illegal so you cannot put out any seed for the birds to come to unless it is already naturally there from a harvest.
Also if you shoot a bird and it lands on another persons property it is your responsibility to go and talk to that land owner to get permission to retrieve the bird.
The final advice was not to mix alcohol with hunting.
"It's a dangerous combination, there's not too much logic into drinking and shooting," Mitchell said. "So I have to be weary and other hunters have to be weary that they're out there having a quote unquote good time involves alcohol things are going to change, your decisions, your perception everything changes. The whole equation changes when you put alcohol into it."
If you have any questions on when seasons start, end or what the rules are Mitchell told us there is a resource for hunters that they can pick up to help with that.
"Our outdoor annual comes out every year," Mitchell said. "It's a a condensed version of all our laws. This is out wherever you buy a license and it has all of our laws."
So just a reminder dove season began on Sunday September 1st and if a game warden does approach you in the field Mitchell asked that you point your shotgun in a safe direction and unload it for everyone's safety.