Hunting Time - Doves! PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 23 August 2007 00:57

From the KDWP --

Dove season marks the beginning of fall for many hunters

PRATT— For Kansas bird hunters eagerly awaiting the September 1 opening of dove season, the last few days of August pass by like cold syrup even though outside temperatures are in the 90s. Keeping busy with hunt preparations and preseason scouting provides only temporary relief. The Kansas dove season opens statewide on Sept. 1, and the first segment runs through Oct. 14. The final segment is Nov. 1-16.

It’s no wonder hunters look forward to dove season so much. The mourning dove is the most abundant game bird in North America, and it’s one of the most popular with hunters. In Kansas, an average of 36,000 hunters will harvest 800,000 doves each year. And Sept. 1 marks the first hunting season of the year, so anticipation is high.

KDWP reminds hunters to check the birds they harvest for bands. Since 2003, biologists have been trapping and banding doves to learn more about hunting’s impact on dove populations. The bands are small, so hunters will need to check their birds carefully. Hunters who take banded birds are asked to call 1-800-327-BAND (2263) to provide necessary information. Hunters can keep the bands and will be provided with a certificate that provides information about the age, sex and banding location of the bird.

This season, some hunters may be asked to provide a wing from each dove they harvest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This is a pilot project to discover if a nationwide wing survey is feasible. Biologists will use submitted wings to identify the ratio of immature to adult birds in the harvest, which will help them estimate reproductive output.
Mourning doves are prolific nesters and Kansas is generally one of the top nesting states, according to call-count surveys done in May and June. Doves build flimsy nests in trees or on the ground, so severe weather can impact nest success. However, they are persistent and by late summer, Kansas dove numbers are usually high. Scouting trips may expose large numbers of birds gathering near watering holes, feed fields or roosts.

In addition to scouting, hunters can bide time until opening day and increase their odds for success with other preparations. One of the most critical may be wingshooting practice. Shotgun shell manufacturers love dove season because the average dove hunter may fire seven shots for each dove harvested. With a daily bag limit of 15 birds, that’s a lot of shells! Doves are small, fast flying, and unpredictable, and they present a challenge for even the best wingshooters. Throw in some normal Kansas wind, and you really test your shooting ability – and patience. Hunters who spend some time shooting clay targets before the season can improve their shooting average on opening day.

While any shotgun shooting practice will help, a few trips to the local sporting clays course or five-stand range will help immensely. Sporting clays and five-stand layouts provide shooters with a variety of flying targets that can simulate dove hunting. Getting a feel for the swing of the gun, the speed of the target, and necessary lead with clay targets is fun, as well as good practice.

Good locations for early-season dove hunts include worked wheat and corn fields, cut sunflower fields and water holes. And a roost site can provide some fast, furious shooting just before sunset. Doves prefer open, lightly vegetated feeding areas, and waterholes with open or bare banks will draw more birds than those with brushy banks. Many Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks public hunting areas will some manage fields for dove hunting. Click here or go to the department’s website, and type in “managed hunting areas” into the search box, or call the nearest KDWP office.