For avid bird hunters, the summer has slowly dragged on, but the September 1 opening day of dove season will be here before you know it. It’s time to stock up on shells, practice your wingshooting skills and scout for water holes and feed fields doves are using.
Kansas is often referred to as the Sunflower State, and maybe that’s why so many mourning doves summer here; they love sunflower seeds. Doves are one of the most numerous game birds in the U.S., and Kansas usually ranks near the top when state dove breeding populations are surveyed. By the end of August, Kansas is literally teeming with mourning doves. In 2012, an estimated 37,791 hunters harvested 753,390 doves in Kansas.
The dove season is open Sept. 1-Oct. 31 and Nov. 2-10 for mourning, white-winged Eurasian, and ringed turtle doves. The daily bag limit is 15, and the possession limit is 45, which applies only to mourning and white-winged doves, single species or in combination. There is no limit on Eurasian collared and ringed turtle doves, but any taken in addition to a daily bag limit of mourning and white-winged doves must have a fully-feathered wing attached while in transport. An extended exotic dove season for Eurasian collared and ringed turtle doves is open Nov. 20, 2013-Feb. 28, 2014. There is no daily bag or possession limit, but a fully-feathered wing must remain attached while in transport.
Residents 16-74 must have a hunting license and Harvest Information Program (HIP) permit, unless exempt by law, to hunt doves. All nonresidents, regardless of age, must have a nonresident hunting license and a Kansas HIP permit.
Finding a productive dove hunting spot requires some advance scouting, and this can be as simple as driving backroads during the early morning hours looking for fields doves are using. Birds will often congregate along power lines or dead trees. Before hunting on private land, get landowner permission.
Public lands can provide outstanding hunting opportunities, especially on managed dove fields. Many Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism wildlife areas have fields managed specifically to attract mourning doves. The small fields are planted to sunflowers or wheat and managed to make them attractive to doves. When the weather cooperates, dove hunting around these fields can be fantastic. Thirty-nine wildlife areas across the state feature managed dove fields and some special restrictions may apply. Go to www.ksoutdoors.com, click on “Hunting,” “Migratory Birds,” then “Doves” for a listing of dove field locations and special regulations. Many of the dove fields will be designated as “Non-toxic Shot Only,” and some may be set aside for youth hunting opportunities. Fields designated as “Non-toxic Shot Only” will be marked with signs.
The impending autumn brings with it the optimism of the 2013 hunting season, and it won’t get here a day too soon for avid hunters. Get out and take advantage of the great hunting opportunities available here in Kansas.
Image courtesy Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism