The 2007 hunting season officially gets underway Saturday morning at sunrise, and the jury is still out on what type of season will be waiting for area hunters. Abundant rainfall with totals already nearly double the annual average have led to an extraordinary amount of vegetation and standing water which could severely affect historical “hotspots” around normal watering holes. Hunters are urged to familiarize themselves with the regulations as published in the 2007-08 Outdoor Annual prior to heading to the field. McCulloch County is located in the Central Zone and hunters are reminded that the daily bag limit is 12 birds with a possession limit of 24 excluding the first day of the season. In addition to a hunting license, a migratory game bird stamp endorsement ($7) is required to hunt any migratory game bird, including mourning dove. An upland game bird stamp endorsement ($7) is required to hunt turkey, quail, pheasant, lesser prairie chicken, or chachalacas. The regular season runs from Sept. 1-Oct. 30 and again from Dec. 26-Jan.4. An excerpt from the Outdoor Annual official hunting regulations is printed below to familiarize hunters with rules affecting dove hunters. HIP Requirement for Migratory Game Bird Hunters: No person shall hunt migratory game birds in this state unless that person is certified in the Harvest Information Program (HIP) in Texas. When you purchase a hunting license, indicate to the license clerk that you intend to hunt migratory game birds during the 2007 – 2008 season and need to be HIP certified by answering a few simple questions. The letters ‘HIP’ should appear on the license to indicate that you have been HIP certified. GENERAL RULES NOTE: Hunters are responsible for knowing whether an area is baited or not. ‘ Baiting (the following baiting rules have been established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service): ‘ A hunter MAY hunt any migratory game bird: ‘ over standing crops, standing flooded crops, and flooded harvested crops ‘ at any time over natural vegetation that has been manipulated ‘ where seeds or grains have been scattered as a result of normal agricultural planting, harvesting, or post-harvest manipulation ‘ over crops or natural vegetation where grain has been inadvertently scattered as a result of entering or leaving the field, placing decoys, or retrieving downed birds ‘ using natural vegetation or crops to conceal a blind, provided that if crops are used, no grain or other feed is exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered in the process ‘ except water fowl and cranes where grain or other feed has been distributed or scattered as the result of the manipulation of a crop or livestock feeding ‘ A hunter MAY NOT: ‘ hunt migratory birds with the aid of bait, or on or over any baited area ‘ hunt over any baited area until 10 days after all baiting materials have been removed Definitions: ‘ Aggregate Limit: A daily bag or possession limit composed of more than one species. ‘ Bait: Salt, grain, or other feed, directly or indirectly placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered, that could serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds to, on, or over any areas where hunters are attempting to take them. ‘ Baited Area: Any area on which bait has been placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered so as to serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds to, on, or over areas where hunters are attempting to take them. Any such area will remain a baited area for ten days following the complete removal of all bait. ‘ Daily Bag Limit: The maximum number of birds as specified for each species which may be taken during the legal shooting hours of any one day. ‘ Legal Shotgun: Shotguns not larger than 10 gauge, fired from the shoulder, and incapable of holding more than 3 shells (shotguns capable of holding more than 3 shells must be plugged with a one-piece filler which is incapable of removal without disassembling the gun, so the gun’s total capacity does not exceed 3 shells). ‘ Manipulation: Alteration of natural vegetation or crops, including but not limited to mowing, shredding, discing, rolling, chopping, trampling, flattening, burning, and herbicide treatments. ‘ Migratory Game Birds: Includes all wild species of ducks, geese, coot, rail, gallinules, snipe, woodcock, doves (mourning, white-winged, white- tipped or white-fronted) and sandhill cranes. Does not include exotic collared-dove. ‘ Natural Vegetation: Any non-agricultural, native, or naturalized plant species. ‘ Normal Agricultural Planting, Harvesting, and Post-Harvest Manipulation: A planting or harvesting undertaken for the purpose of producing and gathering a crop, or manipulation after such harvest and removal of a crop, that is conducted in accordance with official recommendations of State Extension Specialists of the Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ‘ Possession Limit: The maximum number of migratory game birds that can be possessed at any time.