Midwest: Hunters Prepare as Dove Seasons Take Flight

Contact: Kent Keene, Lower Midwestern States Coordinator

Across the Midwest, hunters are dusting off their shotguns for the first wing-shooting season of the year: dove season. Dove seasons are timed to correspond with the southern migration toward Central and South America, often peaking in September and early October.

Many state wildlife management areas (WMAs) throughout the Midwest incorporate dedicated dove fields into their management plans as a way to increase public hunting opportunities. These dove fields often consist of planted crops like sunflowers, corn, wheat, millet, and many others. The resources used to establish and manage these dove fields are made possible by the contributions of sportsmen and women through the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF). Managed dove fields provide a great example of state agencies investing ASCF funds back into game habitat and increased hunting opportunities for sportsmen and women.

Often referred to as a warm-up for later waterfowl and upland gamebird seasons, doves provide a fun and challenging hunt that tests the abilities of wing shooters due to their speed and agility. Dove hunting is a relatively low-cost option for introducing a new hunter to the sport. Many states require only a general hunting license and Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification, while other states (e.g., Missouri) also require the purchase of a Migratory Bird Hunting license. For equipment, many hunters take to the field with simply a shotgun, a few boxes of shells, and a camouflage t-shirt. Between the low-costs required to participate and the opportunity for fellowship and camaraderie among hunters, dove hunting is an ideal avenue through which hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation efforts can be focused.

To learn more about dove hunting opportunities, regulations, and license requirements, visit your state natural resource management agency’s website.

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Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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