Dove hunting kicked off Sept. 1, archery season starts Sept. 28, and gun season for deer officially opens on Nov. 1.

But where’s the best place to hunt in the Copperas Cove area?

Leased land is available for dove hunting between Kempner and Lampassas and in Salado. Sportsmen can also hunt deer on Fort Hood, which is federal land.

“Hunters need to have a Fort Hood license as well as a state license to hunt on the military base,” said Gary Rubedor of Copperas Cove.

Rubedor has worked as an assistant Fort Hood hunting guide for the last six years.

“There are more than 90 areas of hunting and anyone can hunt on the base,” he said. “It is basically free for soldiers to hunt on the property.”

A Fort Hood license will cost a civilian $100, Rubedor said. Soldier training areas, especially impact areas where soldiers train with live ammunition, must be reserved through range control.

“The east side has not been open for deer hunting for three years now due to low population,” Rubedor said. “We are waiting on the deer census before we will know if the east side will be open. On the side by BLORA (Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area) and the east side that butts up to Killeen, I have seen a lot of deer when I am in the area.”

Fort Hood is expected to announce in early to mid-October if the east side will open and what the hunting quota will be.

Different rules on post

“Because Fort Hood is federal land, the rules are different (than on state property),” Rubedor said. “You can only get two deer per hunter for the entire season, and the last two years, it has been bucks only.”

Texas law has a bag limit of four deer, no more than two bucks and no more than two antlerless deer for both archery and gun season combined.

West Fort Hood and North Fort Hood by Gatesville offer guided hunting tours. Unguided hunting is available on Fort Hood north of Cowhouse Creek.

Army Corps of Engineers land

Hunters can also hunt on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land around Stillhouse Lake and Belton Lake at no cost, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Bell County. Billy Champlin of Texas Parks and Wildlife said no pre-registration is required, and hunters can just walk on to the property and hunt during the day.

But everyone has to have a new hunting license to hunt fowl, Champlin said.

“Vendors at retail stores are not trained on the licenses,” he said. “It is the hunter’s responsibility to ensure he is purchasing the correct license.”

Safety should be foremost in all hunters’ minds.

“We see more accidents this time of year than during deer season,” Champlin said.

Hunters born after September 1971 who want to hunt alone are required to take a safety course. When hunting fowl, hunters are also required to keep a plug in their shotguns.

“It can only hold three shells when hunting migratory birds,” Champlin said. “For deer, the shells in the chamber (of the gun) are unlimited.”

Herald/Wendy Sledd

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