The first of the fall hunting seasons is rapidly approaching.
Dove season opens Sept. 1 and hopefully we can get back to some normal August weather before then – hot and dry – the kind of weather conducive for a good opening day dove shoot.
If you can find a dove food source — like native sunflowers or wheat — you should be in for a good dove shoot.
Scout hunting places for what dove like, which is open ground, food and a nearby watering hole.
If those components are there, certainly the table is laid for a good shoot. The problem is, when food and water are plentiful, the birds will be scattered and not concentrated in one place, which makes scouting even more important.
“Hunters who have an old standby hot-spot may want to check it out some before season to see if it is actually holding birds this year,” said Josh Richardson, migratory bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Richardson said reports and activitity observed from recent dove banding projects show very good bird numbers and successful reproduction in eastern Oklahoma.
Unusually cool and wet weather has made it more difficult to consistently band doves in the central and western portions of the state,
In central and western Oklahoma, doves appear to be “here today and gone tomorrow and then back a few days later,” Richardson said.
Dove season runs through Nov. 9 statewide this year except in the designated Southwest Dove Zone, which is open for hunting Sept. 1 through Oct. 31 and Dec. 26 through Jan. 3. The southwest zone starts on U.S. 62 from the Texas border west of Hollis,, east to Interstate 44, Interstate 44 south to SH 7, SH 7 east to U.S. 62 and U.S. 81 south to the Texas border at the Red River. See map below.
The daily limit for doves is 15, which can include any combination of mourning, white-winged and Eurasian collared doves. A new rule change this season eliminates the bag limit on Eurasian collared doves provided that the head or one fully feathered wing remain naturally attached to the dove.
And if you have a friend who has never been on a dove shoot, Sept. 5 and 6 would be a good time to introduce him or her to the sport.
Those days have been designated as free hunting days in the state this year. No person living in Oklahoma will need a state hunting license or HIP permits on those days.
Hunters from out of state, however, still need hunting licenses and permits.
If you don’t want to go dove hunting, there are always squirrels. Dove and squirrel are the only hunting seasons open on Sept. 5 and 6.