Iowa’s sunflower and wheat fields will be popular places on Sept. 1, when thousands of hunters slip into the standing flowers and field edges in the early morning darkness for the opening day of dove hunting season.
Fast paced and fun, dove hunting can be done by nearly everyone regardless of skill level or mobility. It doesn’t require expensive equipment to participate, only clothes that blend in to the background, a bucket and plenty of shells. There’s a lot of action with a steady stream of doves coming in.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) includes a list of wildlife areas at www.iowadnr.gov/doves where dove plots were planted and identifies the access point nearest the plot. Hunters are strongly encouraged to scout their areas before the season opens especially in central and east central Iowa where impact from the derecho storm was the most severe.
“Scouting is important every year, but will be especially important this year,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist with the Iowa DNR. Hunters looking for Plan B may want to focus on private land silage or hay fields, or where farmers harvested small grain fields, grazed pastures or feedlots.
“It really comes down to getting out there and looking at the area to check the condition of the dove field, then scout it a day or two ahead of the season to see if and how the doves are using it,” he said. “We’re getting lots of dove reports that indicates a good reproduction year but success will depend on how many remain here on opening day and that depends on how many cold nights we have between now and the opener.”
Dove plots are getting increasing busy on opening day and hunters are encouraged to be courteous to one another, to pick up their spent shell casings and other trash and leave the field in good condition.
All dove hunters are required to register with the Harvest Information Program (HIP). It’s free, fast and the information is used to help determine participation and harvest. Register by following the instructions at www.iowadnr.gov/doves or by calling 1-855-242-3683.
Dove season is Sept. 1-Nov. 29. Shooting hours are one half hour before sunrise to sunset. Daily bag limit is 15 (mourning or Eurasian collared) with a possession limit of 30. Hunters are reminded that their gun must be plugged to hold no more than three shells. If hunting public areas north of I-80, hunters should check to see if nontoxic shot is required.