KINGMAN - With dove season just over a week away, hunters are getting ready to pursue Arizona's most numerous game bird - the mourning dove.
Besides mourning doves, hunters will also be able to take white-winged doves. The daily bag limit is 10 birds of either species, and this year the possession limit has been raised to 30 birds.
Locally, most hunters will probably not see any white-winged doves on opening day, as they usually fly down south to warmer climates once the nighttime temperatures drop below 70 degrees.
Hunters in the Colorado River area will see some white-winged doves, but they will be gone within a few days of the opener.
Hunters can also hunt the Eurasian collared dove, which is a feral exotic species. There is no limit on these birds and no restrictions on how these birds may be taken.
However, since these birds seems to prefer urban areas, hunters must be careful to be outside the one-quarter mile limit for shooting near an occupied dwelling, including houses, barns or other structures.
Besides a hunting license, sportsmen over 16 years of age must also have a Harvest Information Program stamp, which can be purchased online or at any license dealer for $4.50. Hunters under 16 years old do not need the stamp.
Hunters are also required to leave one fully feathered wing on every bird that is brought in from the field.
Sportsmen must also pick up all litter, including shotgun shells and boxes, and leave nothing in the field.
Leaving litter can result in a sportsman's hunting privileges being revoked for up to five years.
Arizona will have two dove seasons this year. The first hunt is open from Sept. 1-15. The second season runs from Nov. 22 through Jan. 5.
Legal methods of taking doves include shotguns no larger than 10 gauge, bows and arrows, and crossbows. Shotguns are limited to no more than three shells. Doves can also be taken by licensed falconers.
Local hunters should plan on making a trip to the Mohave Sportsman Club's 7 Mile Hill shooting range this weekend to participate in some trap and/or skeet shooting.
These shotgun-shooting sports actually duplicate real life hunting scenarios, and tuning up for those fast-flying desert speedsters at the range is a good way to ensure more success on opening day.
In America, the average hunter shoots 10 shotgun shells to bag one dove. With a box of shotgun shells typically being at least $5 a box, a limit of birds can be very expensive.
Time on the range will help reduce that cost and provide a more enjoyable hunt.