2021 Dove Season
After a Covid-suppressed year, all of us are anxious to get back outdoors, and there’s no better way to start your hunting season than to hunt doves in Arizona! Dove season swings into action on September 1.
Many festive events are set to resume this year after Covid forced cancellations last season. Be sure to check out events like the World Championship Dove Cook Off in Yuma and the mentored youth hunt at Robbins Butte Wildlife Area near Buckeye. Yuma and other communities that are flush with doves are planning lots of activities, so check out the following websites for up-to-date information.
There are several ways to connect with the Arizona Game and Fish Department for the latest updates and information:
For up-to-date hunting information specific to Yuma, visit: http://www.yumadovehunting.com/
As a reminder, hunters are encouraged to avoid crowded indoor situations and purchase their hunting license and state migratory bird stamp online. Visit https://www.azgfd.com/license/
The great news is that another exceptional early season is expected. Nesting began early, allowing birds to potentially raise multiple clutches, and abundant saguaro fruits have provided an added treat for doves in Arizona this summer. There should be a lot of birds around for the season opener, especially since the summer monsoon has been relatively weak so far.
- Hunters age 18 and older need a valid Arizona Hunting License (or combination hunt and fish license) and migratory bird stamp.
- Hunters age 10-17 only need the youth combination hunt and fish license (the state migratory bird stamp is included with this license).
- Youth under age 10 can hunt doves without a license if accompanied by a licensed adult age 18 or older ( a maximum of two unlicensed children may accompany one adult licensed hunter).
- The daily bag limit is 15 total doves (mourning and white-winged), of which no more than 10 can be white-winged. The possession limit is 45 total doves after opening day, of which no more than 30 can be white-winged. There are no daily bag or possession limits on invasive Eurasian collared-doves.
- The Arizona Dove and Band-tailed Pigeon Regulations are posted at azgfd.com/Hunting/Regulations. To purchase a hunting license and state migratory bird stamp online, visit www.azgfd.com/license/. A license and stamp also can be bought at more than 200 license dealers statewide.
Tips in the COVID-19 Era
If you’re traveling from out of state, or even within the state to hunt doves, here are a few helpful tips to make it the best experience it can be this year:
- Reduce Exposure. It can’t be overstated: To ensure public health and safety protocols are observed, the Arizona Game and Fish Department urges all dove hunters to purchase their Arizona hunting license and state migratory bird stamp online at https://www.azgfd.com/license/.
- Practice Physical Distancing. When out in the field, give other dove hunters some space. Arizona is the nation’s sixth-largest state, and with 60 percent of it being public lands, there’s plenty of room to spread out. Don’t worry — doves are everywhere! So while staying socially connected and sharing fun hunting experiences, remember to stay physically distant from other groups or hunters not in your same party or household.
- 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.
The Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts
Wildlife managers want hunters to have a safe, fun and violation-free time dove hunting. These are the top 10 infractions for which citations are written every season:
- DO NOT shoot within ¼ mile (440 yards) of an occupied structure without the resident’s permission.
- DO NOT shoot from, across or into roads or railways.
- DO NOT leave shotgun shells or other litter on the ground.
- DO NOT hunt over waters all day. (Allow time for livestock to access waters)
- DO NOT consume drugs or alcohol while hunting or handling firearms.
- DO leave one fully feathered wing attached to the bird for identification until you reach your permanent residence or where the dove will be consumed.
- DO keep individual limits of birds separate from others while in the field, in the cooler and in transit.
- DO respect postings on private land and leave gates as you found them.
- DO make a reasonable effort to retrieve all downed birds.
- DO report violations to Operation Game Thief: 1-800-352-0700.
This is a one-pot Tex-Mex style meal that can be made on the tailgate right after harvesting a limit of doves.
- 15 dove breasts – filleted off breast bone and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 15 oz. cans Ro-Tel diced tomatoes (with green chiles, optional)
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crushed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/3-cup water
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Add the dove meat, and stir until the meat just starts to brown on all sides (approximately 5-7 minutes). Reduce the heat to medium, and add the onion, pepper, and garlic while stirring and cook until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Then add all the remaining ingredients. Stir often and allow to cook until the meat is tender (around 30 minutes). Serve over rice or in a tortilla.
About Hunting and Conservation
Did you know that mourning doves are the most numerous, widespread game bird in North America? They are prolific breeders with an average life span of 1-2 years. Dove hunting seasons are regulated and maintain doves as a sustainable wildlife resource. Dove hunters are a valuable conservation tool. There is an excise tax on firearms and ammunition that is contributed to the federal Pittman-Robertson Fund, which in turn is apportioned to state wildlife agencies for the management of wildlife, which benefits all citizens.
Additionally, hunters provide hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy, by purchasing ammunition, gas, food and lodging while engaging in this American tradition.