KINGMAN - Yesterday marked the opener of the fall 2009 dove season in Arizona, and for most hunters, a mid-week opening will mean that they'll have to wait until the weekend to test their skills at this tasty, fast-flying bird.
This year, hunters will have from Sept. 1 through the 15th to take mourning or whitewing doves. The daily limit is 10 birds, of which no more than six can be whitewings.
After opening day, hunters can possess 20 doves, of which no more than 12 can be whitewings. Hunters are required to leave one feathered wing on each bird until such time as the birds reach their final destination.
Hunters can also take the Eurasian collared doves, and there is no limit on these feral exotics. However, a feathered wing is also required to be left on any of these birds until they reach their final destination.
Before taking to the field, hunters must have a valid Arizona hunting license, and those who are 16 years or older must purchase an Arizona Migratory Bird Stamp. This stamp, which costs $4.50, can be purchased at any Game and Fish office or at the local Wal-Mart.
Hunters are required to pick up empty shotgun shells and associated debris (including boxes). Failure to do so is classified as criminal littering, and a conviction can result in revocation of the sportsman's hunting license privileges.
Doves can be taken by shotguns no larger than 10-gauge shooting shot and not capable of holding more than three shells.
Doves can also be taken by falconry or with bows and arrows and/or crossbows.
A second season for mourning doves only will start on Nov. 20 and end on Jan. 3.
Most of northern Arizona (except Unit 15D) is located in the north shooting zone where legal shooting hours are one half hour before sunrise to sunset.
Hunters in the southern part of Arizona are in the south zone, and the shooting hours there are from one half hour before sunrise until noon.
For more information on the regulations for doves and wild pigeons in Arizona, pick up a copy of the Arizona Dove and Band-tailed Pigeon regulations booklet or go to the Arizona Game and Fish Web site at www.azgfd.org and search for them in the hunting regulations section.