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Dove Hunting in Arizona - Opens Sept. 1-15, 2014
2014-15 Season is set, with new bag limits
 

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission approved new bag limits for dove season.

Hunters are now allowed 15, that's right, fifteen mourning doves per day! The limit on white-winged dove is still 10 birds. This new increase also affects the possession limit to 3 days' worth of 45 birds, of which no more than 30 may be white-winged doves.

Get ready! Dove hunting like the good ol' days!

Other great news for dove hunters
  • 15 bird daily bag limit
  • 10 white-winged daily bag limit
  • 45 bird possession limit (respectively)
  • All day shooting hours
  • Expanded open hunting areas
  • New simplified licenses, including $5 youth license
 

Dove Outlook

August marks the month when doves are at their peak numbers and the migration south begins around the start of the hunting season, particularly for white-wings. If the weather holds, and we don’t get a big storm blowing through to start the migration early, the early season dove hunt should be one to remember.

When it comes to the early dove season, the hot action will typically be near agricultural areas with grain type crops growing or recently cut. While Arizona is well known for its cotton, the state also produces corn, sorghum, melons, barley, and even wheat – all great dove attractants.

However, there are plenty of opportunities to harvest a limit of these aerial acrobats in the open desert. Doves consistently move along natural landscape corridors of brush- and tree-lined washes. Birds will move to and from roosting sites, and food and water throughout the day. Sunrise and dusk are typically the best times to hunt these desert corridors.

Regardless of what type of hunt you choose, there is one common ingredient to a successful hunt, pre-scouting. Active crop locations, food, and water sources change from year-to-year, so don’t show up to last year’s honey hole on opening day without scouting – you may be in for a big disappointment.

Summer rains play a big role in the early dove season. No rain and you can bet all the birds will be at dependant man made food and water sources – aka agricultural areas. Throw in some heavy monsoonal storms before the season opener and doves can disperse throughout the desert to take advantage of the fresh weed crop.

 

Gear and Equipment
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dove huntingAny style shotgun in any gauge that you shoot well is perfect for dove hunting.

Shot sizes from No. 7 ½, 8s or 9s will work just fine bringing down a dove, while they are fast, they are not overly tough on the wing.

Camouflage clothing is not as necessary as much as standing still and breaking up your silhouette.

Hunter orange is not mandatory, but a little is a great way to help others see you in the field in those pre-dawn hours.

Hunters should have ear and eye protection, water, hat, sunscreen, bug spray, bags and cooler to store their harvest.

New! Simplified License Requirements
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A hunting license AND an Arizona Migratory Bird Stamp are required for all dove hunters ages 10 years and older.

  • The new Youth Combination Hunt and Fish License (ages 10-17) includes the Arizona Migratory Bird Stamp.
  • Kids under age 10 do not need a hunting license when accompanied by a licensed adult (two kids per adult).

Hunting licenses and migratory bird stamps can be purchased at more than 300 license dealers statewide, any Game and Fish office or online.

Don't forget dove can be hunted in the late season (cooler weather) too, Nov. 22, 2014 - Jan. 5, 2015.

 

Open Hunting Areas

The latest map is below and the legal description of the boundaries are listed in the current dove regulations.

Recent law changes increased dove hunting access compared to recent years. Now, approximately 1 million acres of open, undeveloped, uninhabited desert areas on the periphery of city limits are now open to dove hunting.

Nevertheless, hunters can’t expect carte blanche access. The Game and Fish Commission has taken a conservative, thoughtful approach in its deployment of these shifted or modified authorities.

For instance, Game and Fish has closed hunting in a well-defined, densely populated, core area within Metro-Phoenix (see "Restrictions in Metro Areas" section below for map).

Even with these no hunting areas, the changes still maximizes hunting opportunity, while at the same time minimizing potential conflicts with urban communities.

The public should not be concerned about these new changes having an effect on the safety in their communities. It is important to note that even before these changes, there are three existing key state laws that make it illegal to hunt near homes, roadways, or trespass on private property, including:

A.R.S. § 17-309 (a)(4) It is unlawful for a person to:

"Discharge a firearm while taking wildlife within one-fourth mile of an occupied farmhouse or other residence, cabin, lodge or building without permission of the owner or resident."

A.R.S. § 17-301(b):

"...No person may knowingly discharge any firearm or shoot any other device upon, from, across or into a road or railway."

A.R.S. § 17-304 provides provisions for private landowners ensuring:

A person may not trespass on private property for taking wildlife if that property is posted ‘no hunting’ or if a person is asked to leave by the owner.

If anyone observes any these laws being violated, they should contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Operation Game Thief hotline at (800) 352-0700, or the local law enforcement agency immediately.

 

Yuma Dove Hunting

www.yumadovehunting.com

The 2014 Dove season looks promising in the Yuma area.  As it stands in Mid-July the flights are plentiful and flocks are of good number.  There are still plenty of grain fields standing and no doubt this is having an effect of keeping the birds in the local areas to feed. 

Check out the new, www.yumadovehunting.com website for local information on the Yuma dove hunting hot spot. They have hunting information, events, activities, contests and visitor information.

Also, if you haven't been to Yuma, and many consider the dove capitol of the country, check out this photo essay from the Arizona Wildlife Views - it will leave you wanting to take part in the festivities.

 

Hunting Tips

Scouting Tips

A good place to start your scouting is using Google Earth, www.google.com/earth. This valuable tool is great for locating water holes, dense roosting sites, and travel corridors before you gas up the truck for an on-the-ground inspection. An added bonus is the site gives you GPS coordinates that you can load in as waypoints on your GPS device to assist your scouting.

Another great website for scouting is Rain Log, www.rainlog.org. This site is a great way to find out the amounts of rainfall across the state. Just because you got a big storm in your neighborhood doesn’t mean your favorite dove spot did, and vice versa. Knowing this information will help you strategize your hunt. For example, if the area you hunt has been dry, find the biggest waterhole in the area and wait for the flights. If the opposite condition exists, focus your hunt around large roosting areas, or concentrated food sources.

When you hit the field to do your scouting, preferably the week before the hunt, be sure to bring a pair of binoculars to assist in locating flights of birds, a good map (with landownership), and your GPS with your pre-scouting waypoint locations. If you find a good flight pattern get out of the vehicle and find out what the birds are doing, eating, drinking, loafing, roosting, etc. Knowing what activity they are doing, and the time of day will be valuable when you plan your hunt. Spending a half day and the gas to do so will pay off come opening day.

Shooting Tips

Doves are incredibly fast – up to 55 mph. Doves are extremely agile – can change direction almost instantly. Doves are relatively small – 4 ounces, 12 inches long. Combine those ingredients and you have some challenging wing shooting. Common reasons for missing doves include taking shots at birds too far away or too high, shooting behind the bird, not picking one bird from a group (flock shooting), and waiting too late to take the shot.

Safety and Responsibility

Hunting in Arizona statistically is much safer activity than what some might perceive. Dove hunting is a very popular tradition, and more than 30,000 participate each year – typically the opening weekend. Here are a couple of basic safety tips, that in nearly all cases – will prevent an accident.

  • Maintain your zone of fire – this is 45 degree field of view “between 10 and 2 o’clock” in front of the hunter.

  • Shoot for the sky – all shots should be above the tree line, birds should have clear sky above and below for a safe shot around other hunters and dogs.

  • Know your range – don’t hunt too close to others, at 100 yards (football field) birdshot pellets can still have an impact.

  • T.A.B. +1 – Treat every firearm like it’s loaded; Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction; Be sure of your target and beyond; +1 keep your finger off the trigger until you are certain of your shot and ready to shoot.

  • Unloaded and stored – Be sure to unload you firearm before you return to your vehicle and stow it safely. Never lean a loaded gun on the side of a vehicle, on the tailgate, in the truck, or otherwise.

Snakes

Rattlesnakes are typically active during the early dove season. Dove hunters should avoid walking directly through thick cover, or blindly grab a downed bird from the brush without carefully looking for snakes. Gun dogs should be snake broken. Finally, snakes are also a part of our environment. Leave them alone, and they will do the same to you. There are 13 rattlesnake species in Arizona, to learn more click here.

Late season dove hunting tips

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.

If hunting private property, be sure to ask the landowner for permission. Also, pick up all spent shells and shell boxes. Wait to clean your birds until you reach home. This way, unsightly messes and trash will not be left on landowner's property and help insure your privilege of hunting on private lands. These considerations apply to hunting on public property as well.

The thing that makes late season dove hunting so desirable, besides the great weather and afternoon shooting hours, is the chance at a mixed bag harvest. Quail and rabbit season are open and these desert dwellers are typically encountered in the same areas as dove. Water tanks, washes, and scrub desert offer a small game hunting bonanza. Each species are excellent table fare alone or combined together in a hearty soup or gumbo perfect for the cool fall weather.

Pre-scout: Take a drive out to the areas you are considering to hunt around the same time you plan on hunting them. Check water holes for water, activity, and roosting birds. Go online and check for areas that are open to hunting and use topographical software for finding water holes and drainages.

Be on time: Evening flights do not last long. Birds get up from where they are feeding and head to roosting cover just before sunset. Getting to your spot late can mean missing the bulk of what might only be a 30-45 minute shoot. You should be in the field ready for birds no later than 4 p.m. Sunset during the winter is right around 5:15 p.m.

Take cover: Keep your silhouette broken up with a bush, tree, or other natural object to keep hunter-wary doves from climbing as high as commercial airliners or veering completely off course from your shooting position.

Pick your shots: Some evening flights can have waves of 15, 20, 30 or more doves at once. These birds are typically climbing and moving fast. Pick your shot one bird at a time to put more birds in the bag.

Hit and move: When you hit a bird, hold off on shooting, and move to the fall of the last bird for the retrieve. Then, find cover or crouch down, and repeat. The dark comes quickly and you want to have every bird in the bag while you can still see and find them.

 

Youth-Only Dove Hunt: Robbins Butte Wildlife Area

Event Date: Sept. 6-7, 2014

OVERVIEW

The Game and Fish’s Robbins Butte Wildlife Area is 1,681 acres of quality wildlife habitat along the lower Gila River just southwest of Buckeye, Ariz.. Game and Fish actively manages the land, and due to the water corridor it is rich with mesquite trees, wildlife food crops, and nesting habitat that attracts an abundance of dove (white-winged and mourning) and other wildlife.

A portion of the wildlife area only opens for the juniors-only dove hunter. Designated hunting stations ensure a safe shooting environment just for the kids. To enrich the experience, Game and Fish provides hayrides to and from these stations. After the fast dove hunting action, the Chandler Rod and Gun Club serves up its famous pancakes and sausage breakfast, that has become as traditional as the dove hunt itself.

  • Who: Kids 17 years and younger can hunt; family and friends are welcome as spectators and mentors.

  • What: Annual juniors-only dove hunt

  • Where: Robbins Butte Wildlife Area, southwest of Buckeye off State Route 85. Click here for Google Maps location. From Phoenix are, take I-10 west to exit 112, Yuma - San Diego, take Highway 85 south approximately seven miles, the wildlife area is just after crossing the Gila River on the right.

  • When: Sept. 6-7, 2014 at 4:30 a.m. for check-in and safety briefing.

  • Why: Safe, organized, introduction to dove hunting.

OTHER INFORMATION

What to wear: The dove hunt is in the open desert environment. All attendees should wear appropriate outdoor clothing such as long pants, long sleeved shirts, boots, and a hat. Hunter orange clothing is not mandated but is recommended.

What to bring: A shotgun .410 to 12 gauge, plenty of shotgun shells in no. 7 1/2, 8 or 9 shot (100+), eye and ear protection, a small cooler for your birds, water, bug repellent, sun block, snacks, something to sit on, a camera, and more shot gun shells – beginners can shoot as many as 10 times for every dove harvested.

License requirements: A general hunting license, or an Apprentice License, and a migratory bird stamp are required for the dove hunt. The new Youth Combination Hunt and Fish License (ages 10-17) includes the Arizona Migratory Bird Stamp. Hunters 9 years old and under may hunt without a license when accompanied by a licensed adult (each licensed adult can bring up to two young hunters). Discounted youth licenses are available. Licenses and stamps can be purchased from over 300 license dealers, Game and Fish offices, or online at www.azgfd.gov.

Following the early dove season, the majority of the area is open to hunting for all and provides great times for people of all ages to enjoy. Many families come out regularly to enjoy the rabbit, dove and quail hunting, wildlife watching, or photography opportunities.

Other Dove Hunting Opportunities

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has teamed up with local sportsmen-conservation organization to offer “how-to dove hunt” events that are designed for kids and for first-time hunters. These events are a great way to get a “hands on” experience hunting doves.

  • Sept. 5 & 6: Youth Dove Hunting Clinic and Hunt - Safford - This hands on training and hunt is for first time youth hunters hosted by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Participants will learn about dove hunting and firearm safety, dove ecology and management, species identification, equipment and gear, where to find, hunt, clean and cook dove; preregistration required; open to ages 9 to 15 accompanied by adult. Contact: Devin Skinner (520) 591-7880, or dskinner@azgfd.gov.

  • Sept. 10 and 13, C.J. Biller Memorial Beginner’s Dove Hunt and Training - East Valley (Phoenix/Mesa/Chandler) - This is for first-time hunters for kids and adults. A safety seminar will be held on Thursday, Sept. 10 and the hunt will be held on Saturday, Sept. 13. Some loaner shotguns and ammunition are available. Hosted by Arizona Game and Fish, Chandler Rod and Gun Club, Youth Outdoors Unlimited, Arizona Outdoor Sports. www.youthoutdoorsunlimited.com. Contact: Matt Padilla mpadilla@azgfd.gov

  • Dec. 6-7: Picket Post Small Game Hunting Camp - Geared toward new and novice hunters of all ages. Includes instruction and mentoring on small game hunting (dove, quail, rabbits and coyotes), and shooting techniques; food and firearms are provided. Hosted by: Game and Fish - Mesa, Youth Outdoors Unlimited, and Red Bear, register at www.youthoutdoorsunlimited.com.

For a listing of other hunting events for youth and new hunters throughout the season, visit www.azgfd.gov/outdoorskills.

 

Dove Recipes

Dove Kabobs

There is nothing like the feeling of shooting a dove at first light on a humid Arizona morning, but sometimes, the best part of the hunt is sharing your harvest with close friends and family members. Here is a tried and true recipe, guaranteed to get you excited about that 3 a.m. wakeup.

Using filleted dove meat marinated in Italian dressing, onions, green peppers, red peppers, bacon, and corn. Then build your kabob to your tastes. Grill on the top rack (or indirectly) for 15 minutes to bring all the ingredients to temperature, then cook on the bottom rack over hot fire, quickly, for about 5 minutes. Dove meat should be rare to medium-rare for best taste. Serve with cheese-garlic toast and wild rice. Will feed 6-10 people.

  • 10 dove breasts – filleted off breast bone
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 large red onion
  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 2 cups Italian dressing

Remove dove breast from bone and quarter. Marinate in Italian dressing for 1-2 hours. Chunk cut peppers and onions. Slice corn into one-inch wide wheels. Slice bacon into 3-4 inch strips. On a skewer, alternate vegetables and dove, using bacon on both sides of meat and an onion slice by the bacon.

But the fun is, you can build them how you like. Slow cook over indirect heat for 15 minutes, then cook on hot grill, basting with Italian dressing often. Dove should be cooked rare to medium-rare.

 

About Hunting and Conservation

NORTH AMERICAN WILDLIFE CONSERVATION MODEL

Regardless of whether one chooses to actively participate in hunting or angling, people interested in wildlife and its future should understand the conservation role sportsmen play.

Hunting and angling are the cornerstones of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. These activities continue to be the primary source of funding for conservation efforts in North America. Through self-imposed excise tax on hunting, angling and shooting sports equipment, hunters and anglers have generated more than $10 billion toward wildlife conservation since 1939.

Arizona's 7-Core Concepts of Conservation

  1. Wildlife is Held in the Public Trust
  2. Regulated Commerce in Wildlife
  3. Hunting and Angling Laws are Created Through
    Public Process
  4. Hunting and Angling Opportunity for All
  5. Hunters and Anglers Fund Conservation
  6. Wildlife is an International Resource
  7. Science is the Basis for Wildlife Policy
 

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. Dove hunting seasons are regulated and maintain doves as a sustainable wildlife resource. Dove hunters are a valuable conservation tool. There is an excise tax on firearms and ammunition that is contributed to the federal Pitman-Robertson Fund, which in turn is apportioned to state wildlife agencies for the management of wildlife, which benefits 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. To learn more about this cycle of success, and the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Fund, visit /www.azgfd.gov/h_f/federal-aid-cycle.shtml.

 

 
 

2014-15 Arizona
Dove Season Dates

Sept. 1-15, 2014
Dove Early Season

Sept. 6-7, 2014
Juniors-only Robbins Butte Wildlife Area Dove Season
(see below for details)

Nov. 21, 2014 - Jan. 4, 2015
Dove Late Season

NEW! Bag limit: 15 birds per day
Early season: 15 mourning, only 10 may be white-winged dove
Late season: 15 mourning dove

NEW!
Possession limit: 45 birds

Shooting Hours
All day statewide: one-half hour before sunrise until sunset, all seasons and hunts

Eurasian Collared-Dove
Open all year; unlimited bag and possession limit

For reference only, please refer to the current Arizona Dove and Band-tailed Pigeon Regulations for bag limits, open areas, restrictions, and other requirements.
[Click here]


Grab and Go Info


map

Map of area closed to hunting in Phoenix metro

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Dove regulations in printable format

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Buy your hunting license and Arizona Migratory Bird Stamp online


Smartphone-friendly webpage

www.azgfd.gov/m.dove

On the go? Have this vital information right at your fingertips:

Season dates
Bag limits
Shooting hours
Sunrise times
Open areas
Junior hunt wildlife area
New law changes
License requirements
Social website sharing


Dove Species Information

Mourning Dove

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Mourning doves are the most numerous and widespread game bird in North America. In Arizona, they occur from the lowest of deserts to the ponderosa pine forests. They are most identifiable by drab grey coloration, pointy tail, and extremely fast and agile flying skills.
Learn more

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White-winged Dove

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White-winged dove are found primarily in the saguaro cactus Sonoran desert. They are larger than the mourning dove, and most distinguishable by the white band along each wing, wider rounded tail, blue eye and slow, casual flight patterns.
Learn more

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Eurasian Collared-Dove

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Eurasian collared-dove are an invasive, non-native species. They are the size of a common pigeon, and larger than both the mourning and the white-winged dove. The prominate black "collar" and the light buff gray plumage are most notable. Their flight is similar to a common pigeon and white-winged dove, but the absence of the white-winged bars are your best identifier in flight.
Learn more


Dove hunting like the
good ole days

These ongoing improvements are making it easier to grab your shotgun and go dove hunting, one of the most popular hunting activities in Arizona.

15 mourning dove bag limit
(10 white-winged)
(2014)

45 bird possession limit
(2014)

30 bird possession limit
(2013)

1 million+ acres opened to hunting - open, undeveloped, uninhabited public and state trust lands within city limits
(2012)

10 white-winged dove bag limit
(2011)

All day hunting statewide
(2010)

Free apprentice license
"try before you buy"
( 2009)

Mentored dove hunting events for youth and new hunters
(2008)

Online hunter education
(2007)

Youth only dove hunting
in special wildlife area
(long standing)

Discounted youth licenses
(longstanding)

No license required for kids 13 and under with licensed adult
(longstanding)

No hunter education required for small game hunting
(longstanding)

Many of these changes happened through the efforts of the Game and Fish Commission, constituents, conservation organizations, and supporting legislators.

These are certainly accomplishments that will help carry on the dove hunting heritage in Arizona.


Other Dove Hunting Resources

Hunter Education - Whether you are new to hunting or just looking to take a refresher course and earn a permanent bonus point, our course covers firearm safety, ethics, wildlife identification, survival skills and much more. Courses are offered for classrooms and online. Learn more

Clay Target Shooting - Dove hunting will certainly make a shotgun shooter humble. Shooting a couple rounds of skeet is a great way to sharpen ones swing before the season opener. There many public shooting ranges that offer clay target shooting. For a map and list of the ranges, click here.

Stay Connected - Don't miss out on important information about upcoming seasons, hunting events, and other outdoor-related information from Game and Fish. Stay connected the way that works best for you either by email, RSS feeds, Facebook, Twitter (text alerts), or YouTube. Sign up here

 

 

Benefits of Dove Hunting

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.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department does not receive any of the state’s general funds to operate. Wildlife conservation and management of the state’s game animals, which also benefits many non-game species, is made possible through a user-pay, user-benefit system.

 

Learn Outdoor Skills:
Hunting, trapping, fishing, shooting & more

To learn more about future hunting, fishing events and other outdoor and wildlife-related activities, visit www.azgfd.gov/Outdoorskills.
for a calendar listing of events.

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