PHOENIX — Arizona’s skies are expected to be filled with flight after flight of doves when the 2019 season gets underway Sept. 1.
One of the wettest winters in years gave doves a much-needed boost in 2019. With most birds pulling off as many as a half-dozen nests through the peak hatching periods, hunters shouldn’t have too much trouble filling their limits.
“Doves already are congregating into larger groups,” said Johnathan O’Dell, small game biologist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “The morning and evening flights at traditional roost sites have been plentiful.
“If monsoon storms continue to be few and far between, hunters should find birds concentrated at watering and feeding sites on opening day. Remember, scouting in the mornings and evenings a week in advance of the opener is huge in pinpointing some good hunting spots.”
And there’s more good news: A lackluster monsoon season, so far, means the bigger white-winged doves are sticking around a little longer before beginning their migration to southwestern Mexico.
“If hunters keep their fingers crossed that the weather remains fairly stable in areas where white-winged doves are plentiful, it could be another great opening day in Arizona,” O’Dell said.
The 15-day “early” season gets underway 30 minutes before legal sunrise Sept. 1. The daily bag limit is 15 mourning and white-winged, of which no more than 10 may be white-winged. The possession limit is 45 mourning and white-winged in the aggregate after opening day, of which no more than 15 may be taken in any one day. Of the 45-dove possession limit, only 30 may be white-winged, of which no more than 10 may be taken in any one day. There is no daily bag limit or possession limit on the invasive Eurasian collared-dove.
Once again, the greatest number of doves — and dove hunters — will be concentrated in the state’s agricultural areas, particularly those that produce small-grain crops like wheat, barley, oats and sorghum. That includes locations like Yuma, one of the premier destinations in the U.S., as well as Buckeye, Eloy, Florence, Gila Bend, Toltec and others.
AZGFD reminds dove hunters to review the “2019-2020 Arizona Dove and Band-tailed Pigeon Regulations,” which are posted online at www.azgfd.gov/dove. The regulations have been produced in a format that hunters will find particularly handy in the field. The color brochure is easy to read and features important hunting information, such as season dates, daily bag and possession limits, and legal requirements, at a glance.
All hunters 18 and older must possess a valid Arizona hunting license, as well as a migratory bird stamp for the 2019-20 season — both of which can be purchased online now at https://www.azgfd.com/license/. A youth combination hunt/fish license (for youth hunters 10 to 17) is only $5 and includes a migratory bird stamp.
For everything else “dove,” visit www.azgfd.gov/dove. Also, check out O’Dell’s video that demonstrates two techniques for field-dressing doves at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DDRZGPzJDI.
AZGFD also has rolled out a new webpage for those who might be new to dove-hunting. Visit https://www.azgfd.com/hunting/species/smallgame/dovebeginners/.
Dove hunters play an important role in conservation. Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR) funds are comprised of excise taxes collected on the sale of hunting and fishing equipment (including 11 percent on ammunition), the benefit of which comes right back to Arizona for habitat improvements, shooting ranges, boating access and more.