Why it Matters: Representing the first opportunities for wingshooters to tune up for the fall and winter, dove hunting seasons are a great time to get outdoors. As one of the more challenging bird hunting pursuits, dove hunting can be an enjoyable and challenging introduction to the outdoors. Be sure to check local regulations regarding dove hunting, as well as license requirements for those who are interested in trying this pursuit for the first time.
- As one of the earliest hunting opportunities available for sportsmen and women, dove hunting can serve as a primer for the rest of the fall and winter bird hunting seasons.
- For first-time hunters, dove hunting can be an enjoyable, low-stress introduction to wingshooting, particularly in states that offer apprentice hunting licenses for purchase.
- In some parts of the country, dove hunting opportunities, particularly those on state-managed dove fields, may be subject to special regulations that hunters should understand before heading afield.
September is right around the corner, college football is on the horizon, and, for many sportsmen and women, the highlight of the transition from summer to fall is the start of one of the most enjoyable and challenging hunting seasons of the year: dove season. Across much of the Midwest, these small birds are a true test of a wingshooter’s abilities, darting from food sources to watering holes as part of their annual southern migration.
Dove hunting culture is one built as much upon the social component of the activity as it is the hunting itself. Often associated with a pre-hunt cookout and celebration, the low-stress environment that surrounds dove hunting creates the ideal opportunity to support hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation efforts by introducing a new hunter to the outdoors to the dove field. In states with apprentice hunting licenses available to those who have not acquired their hunter education certification, dove hunting is an early “try it before you buy it” opportunity afield. This type of opportunity is among the reasons that the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) advocates in support of increased apprentice hunting opportunities across the country.
For dove hunters who frequent public dove fields, particularly those managed by state fish and wildlife agencies, a firm understanding of the regulations at play is critical to ensure compliance with any special rules on managed dove fields. For example, hunters on many state-managed dove fields in states like Missouri may be required to use non-toxic shot, rather than the much more common lead. Due to the sheer volume of shots common on many dove hunts, some state agencies have elected to limit shot options and reduce the concentrations of lead on the fields. To learn more about specific regulations related to dove hunting, check your state fish and wildlife agency’s website. Regardless of the shot material used, sportsmen and women should celebrate their contributions to the American System of Conservation Funding and, more importantly, enjoy the start of the season!