Dove season outlook: Birds should be plentiful
Posted August 24, 2021
Opening day is Wednesday, Sept. 1
PHOENIX — Arizona’s dove hunters should have no complaints when the 2021 season opens Sept. 1.
All signs indicate that there will be birds aplenty, particularly for those hunters who are willing to scout in the mornings and evenings between now and the opener to locate some good hunting spots.
Once again, the greatest number of doves — and dove hunters — will be concentrated in the state’s agricultural areas, particularly those that produce small-grain crops like wheat, barley, oats and sorghum. That includes locations like Yuma, one of the premier destinations in the U.S., as well as Buckeye, Eloy, Florence, Gila Bend, Toltec and others. Note: All National Park Service parks and monuments are closed to hunting unless specifically opened in Commission Order.
“The great news is that another exceptional early season is expected,” said Johnathan O’Dell, small game biologist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD). “Nesting began early, allowing birds to potentially raise multiple clutches, and abundant saguaro fruit provided an added treat for doves this summer in Arizona.”
The 15-day “early” season gets underway 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. A fully feathered wing must be left attached to each dove for identification purposes until a hunter reaches his or her permanent residence or where the game meat will be consumed.
NOTE: AZGFD will be asking hunters in some areas to voluntarily submit white-winged dove carcasses for a biological study. Department personnel will be located at popular hunting spots in Yuma on Sept. 1 to help hunters remove breast meat and one wing to maintain legality, and collect the remaining carcass (including entrails) for research.
All hunters 18 and older must possess a valid Arizona hunting license, as well as a migratory bird stamp — both of which can be purchased online at www.azgfd.com/license/. A youth combination hunt/fish license (for youth hunters 10 to 17) is only $5 and includes a migratory bird stamp.
All dove hunters should review the “2021-2022 Arizona Dove and Band-tailed Pigeon Regulations,” which are posted 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, at a glance.
If you’re traveling from out of state — or even within the state — to hunt doves, here are a few helpful tips:
- Reduce exposure. To ensure public health and safety protocols are observed, AZGFD urges all dove hunters to purchase their Arizona hunting license and state migratory bird stamp online at www.azgfd.com/license/.
- Practice physical distancing. Give other dove hunters some space. Remember to stay physically distant from other groups or hunters that are not in your same party or household. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to stay socially connected and share in the fun experiences.
- Wash your hands. Doves are some of the finest and cleanest migratory meat available. Keep it that way by keeping your hands and the meat clean while preparing it for storage or a meal.
Dove hunters play an important role in conservation. Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR) funds consist of excise taxes collected on the sale of hunting and fishing equipment (including 11 percent on ammunition), the benefit of which comes right back to Arizona for habitat improvements, shooting ranges, boating access and more.