Dove season in Arizona always starts on 1 September. Dove hunters are welcomed. This year in 2016, the limit was 15 Mourning doves and White Wing doves combined. For years the limit was 10. There is no limit on Rock Doves (pigeons) and Collared doves, which are both invasive species.
I had invited a young hunting partner and another friend out to hunt with me, but for various reasons, they could not make opening day.
The day started out slow. A few doves were flying from roosts in the citrus groves to nearby fields. I started hunting about 06:25. I had four doves by 08:00. The Browning Double Auto in the picture is one of my favorite hunting shotguns.
At 08:00, the flight pattern reversed. There was considerable cloud cover, and a good breeze was coming from the Southeast. The doves flew at lower levels to fight the wind. By 09:00, I had limited out and had a bonus of two Rock doves and four Collared doves.
Dove shooting in Yuma is often warm. The temperatures started at 86, and went up from there. The clouds and breeze kept the day comfortable on opening morning. A local restaurant, Chretin's will clean and cook your doves for you if you like. I know others will do so, but do not advertise.
Brownie's, another longtime local eatery, also openly welcomes dove hunters.
Dove season is celebrated in Yuma. The city has a bill board up welcoming dove hunters.
A few years ago, Yuma, as part of its fast growing structure, was incorporating large areas that had been under county jurisdiction. As a concerned citizen, I attended one of the meetings where the city was explaining and pushing for the incorporation.
I mentioned that large areas of prime dove hunting territory would be banned from hunting by the incorporation. The spokesman seemed shocked, and unbelieving. I invited him to check it out, and at minimum, to exempt bird hunting from those areas, as the city could clearly do.
The incorporation went forward, but included was the exemption for dove hunting. There is a weary old saying that the people who make the rules are those that show up. I have seen it happen in Yuma.
A local entrepreneur has organized a gun show this year for the first dove season weekend. I did not attend, but it was a smart move.
The promotion of Yuma as a destination for dove hunters does not seem to reduce the dove populations. They rise and fall with other factors. Hunting is a minor part, overall. It means more competition, but it encourages hunters from California to stay involved. California gun owners need all the help they can get.
90 percent of all doves die from year to year. The world would drown in doves if they did not. Dove hunting only means that humans are able to share in the harvest taken by hawks, snakes, owls, cats, coyotes, and just about all the predators big enough to take a dove. Even so, predation only accounts for a small percentage of dove mortality. From clemson.edu:
The life span of the dove is generally between 1 and 3 years; however, most doves seldom live more than 1 year. Predation accounts for only a small percentage of doves lost. Disease and starvation may take a high toll in certain areas and under certain conditions.If you are looking for a place to hunt does, come to Yuma. The opening day is always 1 September. Just don't ask for the location of my favorite dove hunting spot.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.