(From the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife) Tens of thousands of Oklahomans will take to the field for opening day of dove hunting season Sept. 1, easily among the most popular days of the year for the state’s hunters.
Dove hunting can be an exciting, action-packed hunting experience. Youngsters and adults can have an enjoyable yet challenging hunt just about anywhere from one corner of the state to the next.
“Doves are among the most numerous game birds in our state,” said Josh Richardson, migratory game bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “With the weather we’ve experienced these last couple of weeks before season — not as hot with many pop-up showers — the doves may be more scattered, but they are still around.”
Oklahoma generally sees enough migrating and resident doves to provide quality hunting throughout the entire season, which runs Sept. 1 through Oct. 31 statewide, then reopens Dec. 17-25.
Richardson said reports and activity observed from recent dove banding projects show good bird numbers and successful reproduction across much of Oklahoma.
The key to a successful hunting season in such areas is to do some pre-season scouting, Richardson said.
“While the weather forecast shows that it should clear out and warm up by or after Sept. 1, hunters should be ready to stay in the field a little longer if cooler weather persists. When it’s hot and dry, doves will move ‘en masse’ at daylight and shortly before dusk, usually with a stop at a watering hole during the evening flight.
“When temperatures moderate, dove movement is spread a little more evenly throughout the day,” he said.
Persistent dove hunters can often obtain permission from landowners to hunt on private land, such as fields where grain has been recently harvested. Some excellent hunting can be found on many of the Department’s wildlife management areas. Some portions of many WMAs are managed each year specifically to attract doves. But keep in mind that many public hunting areas require the use of steel shot only.
To find out more about these areas, go online to wildlifedepartment.com and check out the “Where to Hunt” link. In addition to detailed maps, sportsmen can find additional information such as camping locations and contact information for local biologists.
Oklahoma has three species of dove: Mourning dove is the most common; Eurasian collared doves are common especially around human habitation; and white-winged doves have continued to expand in number across the state.
The daily limit for mourning and white-winged doves is 15 birds in any combination. There is no daily limit on collared doves provided the head or a feathered wing remains attached to the bird while in the field.
Dove hunters are reminded to make sure their shotgun can hold a maximum of three shotshells at any one time, and to carry their hunting license and federal Harvest Information Permit while in the field, unless exempt.