KINGMAN – Thursday will mark the opener of the 2016 early season dove hunt in Arizona. It is expected than more than 30,000 hunters will be in the field all over Arizona.
The early season will be open until September 15.
Hunters 18 and older need a valid Arizona hunting license and a Migratory bird stamp to pursue this game bird.
Hunters who are 17 years old or younger need a youth combination license.
The youth license includes the Arizona Migratory bird stamp.
Youth under 10 years old can hunt doves but do NOT need a hunting license when they are in the company of a licensed adult. No more than two children under 10 may hunt with a licensed adult.
Any shotgun in any gauge will suffice for hunting doves. The most popular shotguns are in 12 gauge and 20 gauge.
Hunters can use shot from sizes 7 ½ to number 9. Doves are not large, averaging about 12 inches long and weighing just about 4 ounces. Hunters will find that these fast flying birds can seemingly change direction instantly, causing a lot of misses. In America, the average number of shells fired per bird hit is about one bird per four shells.
Hunters are reminded that the daily limit for doves is now at 15 birds per day but no more than 10 of the birds can be white-wings. Both mourning doves and white-wings are legal.
The possession limit for doves is 45, but no more than 15 can be taken in any one day.
Hunters who encounter the exotic Eurasian collared doves should be aware there are no bag or possession limits on these birds, but it is the hunter’s responsibility to know the difference in these species.
Hunters should not clean birds in or around any stock tanks, as the feathers can cause valves to stick open.
Hunters are also reminded that a feathered wing must be left attached to any dove that is field dressed until it reaches the hunter’s home.
For more information, hunters can go to the Arizona Game & Fish Department website at www.azgfd.hunting/species/smallgame/dove or by picking up a copy of the regulations at any sporting goods store or at any Regional office.
Jim Rich an avid dove hunter from the Ft. Mohave area south of Bullhead City said that recent rains along the Colorado River have also pushed birds in his area farther south.
“Hunters need to scout the areas they want to hunt, and make sure they have both Arizona and tribal permits if they want to hunt on the reservation,” Rich said. “These birds have been hopping around a lot and areas that have produced in the past may not be as productive due to an increase in the number of dwellings being built.”