Hunters rejoice: It's time to get back into those fields for dove hunting season.

The regular season for the birds kicked off Sunday for most of the state.

And as hunters prepare to get back to their blinds to bag some birds, the year is already looking like a good one.

Blake Boiles and his 7-year-old brother Brett like to hunt doves on property they own near Lorena.

"We're going to go this evening for the first time and hopefully shoot some birds," Blake said Monday morning as the pair picked up hunting permits at Ace Hardware in Hewitt.

"License sales are as good as last year or better," said Brian Schmunsler, manager of Ace.

The state's 250,000-plus dove hunters are stocking up and getting ready to bag an estimated 5 million-6 million birds.

And there will be plenty of shotguns in the fields this year.

Supplies have been flying off Schmunsler's shelves since last week.

On Friday, several stacks of ammo in the middle of the store were up to eye level at least. Just three days later, some of them barely reach your knees. You won't even find any 20 gauge shells -- they're completely out.

"I've probably sold another thousand boxes over last year," Schmunsler said.

Part of the reason might be how the days fall. This year the season started on a weekend.

"When it starts on a Monday or Tuesday it's a little slower until the next weekend," he said.

It's sure to pick up over the next few weeks, until colder weather starts rolling in.

But until then, the state wildlife department is expecting above average numbers for the 70-day season.

"We'll probably get a limit each day," Blake said, "maybe a little less."

That limit -- 15 birds a day, with a new possession limit this year of 45 birds total.

Dove hunting season in the north and central zones lasts until Oct. 23, then again from Dec. 20 to Jan. 5.

Elsewhere in the state, the season doesn't start until Sept. 20.