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Sat, Jan. 18

Arizona dove hunting season gets underway Sunday

Mourning doves are the most-hunted game bird in Arizona. The 2019 season gets underway on Sunday. (Adobe Images)

Mourning doves are the most-hunted game bird in Arizona. The 2019 season gets underway on Sunday. (Adobe Images)

The fall 2019 dove season will open on Sunday, and for Mohave County hunters it should be a great year for dove hunting.

According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, “one of the wettest winters in years gave doves a much-needed boost in 2019. With most birds pulling off as many as a half-dozen nests through the peak hatching periods, hunters shouldn’t have too much trouble filling their limits.”

Due to a lack of monsoon activity, doves will be concentrated more around available water sources. The AZGFD said “if monsoon storms continue to be few and far between, hunters should find birds concentrated at watering and feeding sites on opening day. Remember, scouting in the mornings and evenings a week in advance of the opener is huge in pinpointing some good hunting spots.”

The 15-day “early” dove season gets under way 30 minutes before legal sunrise Sept. 1. The daily bag limit is 15 mourning and white-winged doves, of which no more than 10 may be white-winged. The possession limit is 45 mourning and white-winged in the aggregate after opening day, of which no more than 15 may be taken in any one day. Of the 45-dove possession limit, only 30 may be white-winged, of which no more than 10 may be taken in any one day. There is no daily bag limit or possession limit on the invasive Eurasian collared dove.

AZGFD reminds dove hunters to review the 2019-2020 Arizona Dove and Band-tailed Pigeon Regulations, which are posted online at www.azgfd.gov/dove. The regulations have been produced in a format that hunters will find particularly handy in the field. The color brochure is easy to read and features important hunting information, such as season dates, daily bag and possession limits, and legal requirements.

All hunters ages 18 and older must possess a valid Arizona hunting license, as well as a migratory bird stamp for the 2019-2020 season — both of these can be purchased online now at https://www.azgfd.com/license/. A youth combination hunting/fishing license (for youth hunters ages 10 to 17) costs only $5 and includes a migratory bird stamp.

AZGFD has a web page for those who might be new to dove-hunting. Visit https://www.azgfd.com/hunting/species/smallgame/dovebeginners/.

There are actually two dove seasons in Arizona. The first season starts Sept. 1 and ends Sept. 15. The second or late dove season opens Nov. 22, 2019 and closes on Jan. 5, 2020.

Rules to be aware of

Some common violations that officers see during dove season include shooting within a quarter-mile (440 yards) of an occupied structure without permission and shooting from, across or into roads or railways.

Another violation includes leaving shotgun shells or other litter, including shotgun shell boxes, on the ground.

A reminder that hunters who are hunting on or near waters should allow time for livestock to access water. Also do not wash doves in stocks tanks! Feathers can cause the valves on the drinker to stay open, causing the storage tank to go dry.

Note that it is considered unsafe to consume drugs and/or alcohol while hunting or handling firearms.

Other regulations for dove hunters include a requirement to leave one fully feathered wing attached to the bird for identification until you reach your permanent residence or where the wildlife will be consumed.

The AZGFD reminds hunters to keep individual limits of birds separate from others while in the field, in the cooler and in transit. Hunters are urged to respect postings on private land and leave gates as you find them.

Regulations also require that hunters must make a reasonable effort to retrieve all downed birds and to report any violations to Operation Game Thief at 800-352-0700.

Legal methods of take

Migratory game birds may be taken only with a 10-gauge or smaller shotgun capable of holding no more than three shells (two in the magazine and one in the chamber), unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler, incapable of removal without disassembling the gun, so its total capacity does not exceed three shells.

Birds also may be taken by falconry, by bow and arrow, or crossbow. Pneumatic weapons are legal only for use on Eurasian collared-doves. An Arizona migratory bird stamp is not required for taking Eurasian collared-doves. Legal shooting and hawking hours are one-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Statewide Falconry-only Dove Season opens Sept. 16, 2019 and goes through Nov. 1, 2019.

For more information or questions, call the Region 3 office at 928-692-7700.

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