|All-day dove hunting begins Friday|
Nov 19, 2008
Take advantage of great weather, fewer crowds during late dove season
PHOENIX —The second season for dove hunting begins Friday and the Arizona Game and Fish Department expects it to be one of the better seasons in years due to great seasonal rains and an abundance of crops.
“The second season is good for a number of reasons: the weather is fantastic, there are fewer crowds, and quail and rabbit seasons are open too - offering a mixed bag,” said Mike Rabe, small game management supervisor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Surprisingly, a very small percentage of early season dove hunters go out in the late season. Those that choose not to go are really missing out on a great opportunity and an abundant resource.”
The season runs from Nov. 21 into the new year ending Jan. 4, 2008. However, in order to hunt in 2009, you will need a 2009 hunting license. Your migratory bird stamp is valid for the entire 2008-09 season if you have it from hunting the early season in September. Licenses can be obtained at any department office or license dealer.
The daily bag limit is 10 mourning doves. White-winged doves are not open, nor are they typically found in the state during the winter months. However, in some areas bordering rural communities or near agricultural areas, hunters may encounter Eurasian collared-doves; there no limit on these birds, but it is required to leave one feathered wing until you reach your final destination for identification (on both species). Eurasian doves are large (bigger than a white-wing) and excellent eating.
“Late season dove is always good,” adds Rabe. “There are fewer hunters, and fewer hunters means more room for those who venture out. Because the second season allows for afternoon hunting, there is more flexibility for a morning and evening hunt.”
Shooting hours are one half-hour before sunrise until sunset – statewide. The best times to hunt are right before sunrise and about 1-2 hours before sunset, making this hunt convenient and accommodating for busy schedules. Start your day a little early before going to work to get into a quick flight of birds. Conversely, work through lunch and leave early to get to a local stock tank and finish off the day with wingshooting and a sunset. Either way, late season dove offers a link to the outdoors and an Arizona tradition.
For the 2008-09 dove hunting regulations, hunting tips, the small game outlook and more, visit www.azgfd.gov/hunting under the 'small game hunting' section.
Where to hunt
Use a map that identifies land ownerships and city boundaries to keep you legal. Nearly no cities allow the discharge of a firearm in city limits. Your best bets are state trust lands and BLM lands for open hunting. Desert water holes can often offer spectacular evening shooting during the late season, and a great way to combine dove and quail on a hunt. A few scouting trips can help locate great hunting spots.
Roosting sites often make for good shooting. Doves will typically pick densely vegetated areas for roosts. Mesquite bosques, tamarisk (salt cedar) thickets, and citrus groves are typical roosting sites. Doves establish flight patterns and follow them.
Watch tree lines, washes, canals, field corners, or other structural features that birds may follow. Late season doves frequently shift their flight patterns and feeding areas, so the more spots you have lined up the better your chances are for consistent good hunting.
Late season dove hunting tips:
Any shotgun in any gauge that you shoot well is the best choice. Choice of shot size ranges from No. 8 for close flying birds and up to No. 6 for those high-flying birds. Other than some water, hat, and sunglasses are all that is needed to get out and enjoy dove hunting.
Mix it up
Note: Did you know, mourning doves are the most numerous, widespread game bird in North America? They are prolific breeders with an average life span of 1-2 years, and controlled seasons maintain them as a sustainable wildlife resource. Dove hunters are a valuable conservation tool. There is a federal excise tax on ammunition that is contributed to the Pitman-Robertson Fund, which in turn is apportioned to state wildlife agencies for the management of wildlife, which is a benefit to all citizens. Additionally, hunters provide hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy, by purchasing ammunition, gas, food and lodging while engaging in this American tradition.