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Arizona is home to multiple species of dove with a rich hunting history. Learn more about each of these species and the hunting opportunities they provide.
Arizona’s Dove Hunting History
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Prior to statehood this species was hunted primarily in conjunction with white-winged dove, and spring and summer shooting over grain fields was a common occurrence. In 1929, however, state and federal regulations curtailed the mourning dove season in Arizona to between September 1 and December 15, and established a 20-bird bag limit. As with the white-winged dove, the glory days of mourning dove shooting were in the 1960s and 1970s, when more than 100,000 hunters reported harvesting up to 2.5 million mourning doves a year. Although still ranked as one of Arizona’s two most important game birds, mourning dove hunting has since fallen off due to urban expansion, changing farm practices, and more restrictive season arrangements. Questionnaire surveys indicate that during the past 10 years, an average of from 45,000 to 60,000 hunters bagged from 1 million to 1.3 million doves each year.
A favorable combination of nesting cover and grain crops resulted in two great heydays of white-winged doves hunting in Arizona. The first of these was in the years prior to World War I, and the second was during the years after World War II. So plentiful were these birds that the bag limit was 25 per day and 50 in possession. Numbers peaked in the 1960s when, in 1968, an all-time record harvest of more than 3/4 million was reached. Since then, declining nesting habitat and the virtual replacement of grain farming by cotton and alfalfa have greatly reduced whitewing hunting opportunities. After reaching a low of 86,000 birds harvested in 1980, whitewing harvests have again gradually increased.
Both of these birds have been taken incidentally by hunters during dove season. As Eurasian numbers increased and became more common the first official season for them was established in 2006 that ran concurrent with the regular dove season. This was expanded in 2007 to be a year round season with an unlimited bag as neither bird is covered under the jurisdiction of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The discovery of the persistent populations of African Collared Doves was fairly recent, so they too will likely be added to the regulations with the same season as Eurasians in 2009.
See also migratory bird hunt history
Visit the dove species profile to learn more about these birds.
Yuma and Buckeye each offer ample dove hunting opportunities. Learn more about each of these locations and start planning your trip today.
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Rules and regulations for hunting in Arizona
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