If It's September, It Must Be Dove Season
September 1, 2022
Don't forget that there is no limit and not even a season on Eurasian collared doves. You can shoot them any time, as many as you want. They can be hard to find outside of town, though, which is the biggest hurdle.
Eurasian collared-doves are bigger than white-winged or mourning doves, and they are much lighter in color. They've got dark wing tips and a square tail. When doves are flying in, you'll notice the tails much more easily than color, especially early in the morning when the light is low. Mourning doves have a sharp tail, white-wings have fan-shaped tails, and Eurasian's have square tails. This is very easy to see when they are banking or coming in for a landing.
Big Storms, Decent Rains
Big storms in late summer are typically what prompts the white-wing migration, so it's possible those numbers will be down this year because we've had an awesome, and late, monsoon season. We can only hope that they are around in good numbers!
Decent summer rains turned much of the desert green, resulting in good seed production, and cattle tanks have plenty of water, so conditions are good for the birds. This does mean that the doves are likely to be more scattered instead of concentrated around man-made water and food sources, but the good thing about that is that the hunters can scatter, too.
Best Bet: Scout
If you haven't done any scouting, you may be in for a shock if you normally hunt close to town. You might go out and discover that your favorite hunting area is now a shopping mall. The Gila Bend area is a decent bet for dove hunting, most times, but your best bet is to scout whenever you're out and about and watch for birds. Just remember that you can't shoot within a quarter mile of a residence.
If you've watched the birds early in the morning, you know that they follow almost the same "path" day after day. Doves use washes, tree lines, canals, and even fences like highways, flying over them in the same pattern to and from the roost and feeding/watering areas. We've had really good success by finding out-of-the-way waterholes in the desert. Sometimes those are only good opening day, though, so keep that in mind.
Also keep in mind that even within sight of the newer subdivisions you can find dove and even quail. Just make sure you're at least ¼ mile from any inhabited structure. An app like TopoMaps can be very helpful because you can simply touch the screen and it will show you exactly where you are.
Position Before Dawn
Position yourself somewhere along one of these "pathways" before dawn, facing the roosting area. You don't have to do anything elaborate, just wear clothing that will blend with the background and stand in front of some brush so you don't stick out like a sore thumb. All you have to do now is wait for them to start flying over, (you can start shooting half an hour before sunrise) and pray that you brought enough shells.
Dove season is the perfect time to introduce a child to bird hunting. If you've found a spot that a lot of birds fly over in the morning, take your kid there in the afternoon and just have him or her face the other way and wait for the birds to fly over on their way back to the roost.
You Need To Know
Make sure to read the regulations booklet 2022-2023 Arizona Dove and Band-Tailed Pigeon Regulations. There are listings of places where dove hunting is not allowed, and you're responsible to know if hunting is legal where you are.
• What you need: Adults 18 and older must have a valid hunting or combination license in their possession.Arizona Migratory Bird Stamp $5.00(included with Youth Combination License). Youth ages 10 – 17 must have in their possession a combination license only. 2007-2008 Arizona Dove and Band-tailed Pigeon Regulations booklet (so you know the bag limits and sunrise times, and legal hunting areas.)
• Seasons: September 1 – 15 mourning doves and white-wing doves. Bag limit 15 with no more than 10 being white-winged doves. Possession limit 45 total with no more than 30 being white-winged doves; November 18 – January 1 mourning doves only. Bag limit 15, possession limit 45; Year-round Eurasian collared doves, no bag or possession limit.
• Sun rises between 5:57 – 6:09 on September 1. Earlier in the eastern part of the state, later as you travel west. The regulations booklet for dove has the times for each day during season.
• If you shoot a banded dove, you get to keep the band, but please report it. You can learn about the bird and where it was banded by submitting the band number at reportband.gov.
• Robin's Butte Juniors' only dove hunt: September 3 - 4, 2022. Find details and lists of events at http://www.azgfd.gov/outdoorskills. Juniors-only Dove Hunt is for kids 17 and younger.
To get to Robbins Butte, take Highway 85 to about 7 miles south of Buckeye. Watch for signs on the west side of the road.
Registration is online at http://www.youthoutdoorsunlimited.com Please limit the number of adults who accompany each child.
Bring: Shotgun and plenty of shells, preferably non-lead. Also helpful: sunscreen, hat, shooting glasses, ear protection, water, chairs, blaze orange or highly visible shirt, hat, or vest, and a cooler to bring the birds home for dinner.
Lunch will be provided free.