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PRATT — Many hunters view Sept. 1 as the opening of hunting season, with dove season beginning on that day. It’s been a blistering hot, dry summer, but mourning doves seem to thrive in hot, dry weather, and Kansas hunters should have no problem finding this acrobat game bird when the season opens. Hitting them may be another matter, so target practice prior to season is important.
Although the mourning dove is the primary quarry, Kansas hunters enjoy pursuing four species of doves in split fall and winter seasons. The season for all doves runs Sept. 1-Oct. 31 and Nov. 3-11. During these segments, two native species (mourning and white-winged doves) as well as two exotic species (Eurasian collared and ringed turtle doves) may be taken. In addition, an exotic species season runs Nov. 20-Feb. 28, 2013. During this time, only Eurasian collared and ringed turtle doves may be taken.
To enhance public hunting opportunities, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) manages fields specifically to attract doves. Dove fields may include standing or mowed sunflowers, unharvested strips of wheat and burned crop stubble, mowed wheat, mixed plantings, or any combination of techniques.
Some areas have restricted hunting dates or times, and others may be restricted to youth, novice, and/or disabled hunters. Some may also require hunters using managed dove fields to obtain and complete a daily hunt permit or obtain access through a drawing. Other areas are open to the general public. Fields within waterfowl management areas require non-toxic shot only. Daily hunt permits are free and located in “iron rangers” (similar to mailboxes) at the field near you.
Use the KDWPT website, ksoutdoors.com, to find details on areas specially managed for doves. Click "Hunting/Migratory Birds/Doves/Managed Hunting Areas" for details on a managed dove area.
Hunters are reminded that there are no bag and possession limits for Eurasian collared doves and ringed turtle doves. However, during the regular dove season — Sept. 1 through Oct. 31 and Nov. 3-11 — if the take of exotic doves exceeds a hunter’s daily bag of 15 mourning and white-winged doves (single species or in combination), the exotic doves must be transported with a fully-feathered wing attached. The possession limit for mourning and white-winged doves is 30.
Doves are excellent table fare. Whether wrapped in bacon and grilled, baked in a pie, or skewered for shish-ka-bobs, this game bird is a favorite of many. But don’t wait until Sept. 1 to get ready. Hunters should be scouting areas and obtaining permission on private ground or planning for a public land hunt now. Shooting clay targets for a couple of weeks will save shells once the season opens, but stock up on shells anyway; this is one of the most difficult game birds to hit. These things done, all that remains is knowing the law and cleaning the grill.
All dates and regulations needed for hunting doves may be found online at the KDWPT website, ksoutdoors.com. On Aug. 23, the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission will approve final regulations for ducks and geese at the Wetland Education Center, 592 NE K156 Highway, near Great Bend. Once that action is complete, KDWPT can post the 2012 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulations Summary, on the agency’s website, where hunters can go to learn more about identifying dove species. At that time, click "Hunting/Hunting Regulations" to view or download this booklet.
Printed copies of the 2012 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulations Summary, as well as the Kansas Hunting Atlas, will be available where licenses are sold the first week in September.