The Arizona Game & Fish Department has announced that the regulations for the 2018-2019 dove and Band-tailed pigeon are online and available and can be viewed by going to http:///www.azgfd.com/Hunting/Regulations.
The first dove season opens in less than two weeks, and hunters need to find the information that they need to go after the most hunted game bird in Arizona. The first dove season will be Sept. 1-15. The late dove season opens Nov. 23, and closes Jan. 6. 2019.
All hunters, 18 years and older, must possess an Arizona hunting license, as well as a migratory bird stamp, which can be purchased at regional G&F offices or online at https://license.azgfd.gov/home/xhtml.
Hunters are also reminded they need to leave one feathered wing on the birds they clean, if they clean them in the field.
Remember that when field dressing the birds, don’t do it around wildlife or cattle waters. Feathers can get into the valves and could cause a tank to drain. Remember, hunters are guests on private ranches that allow hunting and to keep good landowner/hunter relations, be thoughtful and courteous when hunting on private lands.
Hunters are reminded to pick up the empty shotgun shells and boxes where you are at, as if left on the ground and in the field, hunters could be charged with criminal littering. Criminal littering while hunting can get your hunting privileges revoked for up to 5 years.
Speaking of shotgun shells, since doves are migratory birds, shotguns are limited to only three shells. Most local hunters use a 12 ga. shotgun, but my favorite dove gun is an over/under 20 ga. I like the mild recoil and these early season doves are easy to anchor with a field load of number 7 ½ or 8 shot.
Scout now to find out where the birds are watering
Now is the time to do some serious pre-season scouting to find out what stock tanks or wildlife waters the birds are coming into. Don’t park right at these water sources. Go back over a hundred yards and watch with binoculars what is coming to the water.
Doves usually feed before going to water, and some of the best shooting can happen when the birds head to water, which may be between 8 and 10 a.m.
Water is something that is needed by all life, so you might be surprised at what you will see. Besides a scouting trip, it can also be a wildlife watcher moment. Last year while watching a stock tank I saw coyotes, birds of prey and even a doe with two fawns, slip in to the water for a quick drink.
Know the daily bag and possession limit for doves
Remember that Arizona is home to three varieties of doves, which include the Mourning dove and the White-winged dove. The daily limit for these birds is 15, with no more than 45 in possession after day three of the hunt.
The third dove normally found in Arizona is called the Eurasian Collared Dove. These are feral exotics,
There are no seasons or bag limits on these doves, but they are excellent table fare and slightly larger than the Mourning or White-winged doves.
Hunters should be sure of the species and characteristics of the birds they harvest. European Collard Doves normally fly in a straight line, while Mourning and White-winged doves tend to fly erratically.
Decoys? Legal to use and highly recommended
It is legal in Arizona to use decoys, and if you want to add some excitement to your hunt, I’d suggest buying and using them during your hunt.
I like the motion decoys, such as the ones put out by MOJO. The constantly spinning wings will attract passing doves, who might just slow down for a look see. These are battery powered and sell from $33 to $45, depending on who you order them from.
I also like to set out a half dozen or more of the solid dove decoys. I’ll clip them on fences; or on top of fences poles as an added attractant. Coupled with a motion decoy, it is not uncommon for doves to actually land on the fences or on the ground by the motion decoys. I sure don’t advocate shooting birds off of fences or fence posts, especially if other hunters are in the area. It is not only a safety issue, but an ethical one as well.
I’ve purchased solid decoys locally through the Wal-Mart store but they can be ordered online through Amazon.
One time when I was hunting off of Stockton Hill Road, I actually had a hunter from Nevada sneak up on my spread and shoot at my decoys that were clipped to the top wire of a fence. This despite me hollering at him before he got into range.
Dove hunting is a lot of fun, and I like to try and hunt at least the first few days of the season with friends.
While some hunters don’t care for the meat, as it does have a somewhat liver taste, I’ve found that there are a number of recipes that make them very enjoyable. My favorite is green chile burritos, smothered with green sauce. Others pin a piece of bacon on the breasts and cook them on the barbecue grill.