TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Dove season kicked off on Sept. 1 and East Texas hunters are getting ready.

Wildlife experts said habitat conditions and bird numbers look promising this year.

“A lot of it really is determined by how many birds are present to migrate south and that has a lot to do with the success of last year’s hatches,” John Tomecek an Extension Wildlife Specialist said.

Specialists have said outdoor activities like hunting are growing in popularity since the pandemic started.

“It’s a family tradition,” Aaron Simms with Texas Parks and Wildlife said. “It’s a Texas tradition, and it is a social event and especially now, now a days with everything that’s going on in the world.”

While dove hunting is a sport, it also helps to control dove populations which is why having a license is required to hunt. It is also important to keep track of when it is time to renew it.

“If you want to go out dove hunting make sure you have a valid Texas hunting license,” Simms added.

Another important thing to always remember when hunting is safety first.

“Once you do decide to see a bird and shoot at it, make sure it’s a safe shot. Know what your target is and know what lies beyond it. Is there a house? Are there some trees? Is there a fence line? Are there some hunters nearby?” Simms continued.

Another thing to remember is that baiting is illegal and that there are other strategies people can use.

“Anything that comes out of a sack and grows from the ground and you hunt over it, that’s no good. But if it comes out of a sack and you grow it and plant it then you are allowed to manipulate it however you want to hunt the doves,” Tomecek said.

Experts said Doves aren’t picky eaters, but that they do have their favorite foods.

“They will eat things like cracked corn,” Tomecek added. “They really don’t like to. They prefer smaller things like millet and milo.”

Dove season is split into two parts. The first part of it lasts until the end of October and the second half begins in December.