By Jeff Berti
With September fast approaching, fall hunting seasons are just around the corner. One popular season will get under way this Sunday, Sept. 1, when the 70-day Dove season begins.
If you are looking for good hunting, you shouldn’t have to look far. Many doves have been reported hanging around disked wheat fields in and around Grundy County. Also, a few farmers have been cutting silage, giving the doves even more to feed on.
Doves, like most birds this year, had a good hatch in north Missouri. Spring and summer conditions have been near perfect for both nesting and brood rearing, making this year one of the brightest outlooks for dove hunters in recent times.
Weather will play an important role in the amount of doves that will stay in North Missouri for the season. If the weather stays warm, hunters will have good hunting for the entire season. If a sudden cold front moves in, most doves will move south, staying ahead of the cold weather. If a major weather change happens during the season, it is likely to move birds out of the area, and push them farther south.
In case you are wondering, almost everything has remained the same from last year, as far as regulations are concerned. The season remains a 70-day season starting Sept. 1 and running until Nov. 9.
Shooting times will again be one-half hour before sunrise until sunset. Limits remain 15 doves per day. This year, however, the possession limit has changed from 30 to 45 doves. This regulation change will not harm the dove population and will give hunters the opportunity to harvest more birds before they have to eat them or give them away. This will give hunters the flexibility to plan and enjoy longer hunting trips. The daily and possession limits may include a combination of three dove species; the Mourning Dove, the Eurasian Collard Dove and the White-Winged Dove.
Small game hunting permits are required for resident hunters between the ages of 16 and 64 and all nonresident hunters age 16 and older. Migratory game permits are required for anyone sixteen years of age and older. Shotguns are the only type of firearm that is legal, and they must be plugged and capable of holding only three rounds.
The best dove hunting will require three things, food, roost sites, and water. Food is probably the most important. As I mentioned earlier, disked wheat fields, silage fields or sunflower fields are your best bet.
If you have some tall, dead trees along a field border, keep an eye out for doves late in the evening. These trees will probably be used as roost sites by several doves. Position yourself near one of these trees, and you should have some fast, furious shooting.
Last, but certainly not least, is water. All animals need water, and doves are no exception. If you find a hole of water that doves are using, get ready. Most doves in the area will use the same water hole. Try to position yourself somewhere between the food and the water. Doves will fly the same flight “path” to and from these areas.
If you find good hunting, shooting will be fast and steady. Make sure that you keep your wits when it comes to safe shooting zones. Never shoot in the direction of a hunting companion, no matter how far away they are from you. Shotgun pellets are dangerous, even at long distances.
Finally, have fun. Don’t get discouraged if you miss several shots. Doves have been voted the hardest bird to hit on the wing. Take your time, and plenty of ammo and you should have some pretty good table fare at the end of the day.
By Jeff Berti