Load up on ammo and get your favorite shotgun ready for some quick wing shooting on fast flying doves during the early season Sept. 1-15 in Arizona.

And guess what, the opener is on Saturday this year, with all-day shooting. Plus the daily bag limit for white-wing dove is 10, so it will be easier to keep track of your bag limits. The dove bag limit is any combination of 10 mourning and white-wing doves.

Biologists are expecting normal or typical dove hunting this year in Arizona. How good depends on the whims of Mother Nature and whether the white-wing dove migrate before or after the season starts.

“The best shooting, as usual, will be around agricultural fields, especially those planted with grain,” said Mike Rabe, migratory bird program manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

With the advent of recent rains, Mourning doves may be a little more dispersed into the open desert areas. “Doves are creatures of habit – they’ll mostly fly the same flight pattern day after day, so pre-scouting can help immensely,” Rabe advises.

You probably don’t want to rely on past years when determining the right place to hunt this year – many of the grain fields in the past are now being planted in cotton because of the Texas drought: cotton prices are up.

Once you harvest doves, check to see if any have bands. “This is our 9th year of banding. The information collected will help us over time to better manage our dove populations,” Rabe pointed out.

Got some young hunters at home?

Be sure to get them to Robbins Butte Wildlife Area near Buckeye on the opening weekend for the Juniors-only hunt, which is topped off by a sumptuous pancake breakfast after the hunt. For more information on this hunt, visit www.azgfd.gov/dove

Don’t forget that dove hunters 16 and older must purchase an Arizona Migratory Bird Stamp for the 2012-2013 season. The stamp validates the hunting license for the Federal Harvest Information Program.

Dove and sandhill crane regulations are available on the Arizona Game and Fish Department website at www.azgfd.gov.

Also keep in mind that starting last year dove and other small game hunters gained access to around 1 million acres of land around municipalities. This means you do not have to travel as far for good dove spots.

Dove hunters may also want to visit our updated dove hunting pages at www.azgfd.gov/dove. For an on those hunters on the go, visit our mobile-friendly dove page at www.azgfd.gov/m.dove, which offers the bare necessities for dove hunters.

Image courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department

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