The truth be told, most dove hunting seasons are usually pretty good across the state of Oklahoma.
And that’s in a poor year, mind you.
Because in a good year, the dove hunting in the Sooner State is pretty tough to beat with the state offering some of the best wingshooting action to be found anywhere in the country.
What can hunters expect this year? More of the same said Josh Richardson, the migratory game bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC).
“The dove call survey, which gives us an index of adults pre-nesting, was up by more than 20 percent from last year,” said Richardson. “This is a considerable boost, which indicates we are having a good year for doves.”
Why the increase? Richardson said that hunters need only to look at the rainy skies and milder temperature readings that have blessed the state this summer.
“On the good side, the summer rain has (brought) on a flush of native forbs like sunflower, snow-on-the-mountain, croton (doveweed) and others,” he said.
Is there a bad side? Richardson indicated that the heavy rains in some portions of the state this spring and summer have reduced some of the normal food sources that doves typically feed upon. Because of the good rains, most waste grain in harvested wheat fields has either sprouted or soured he noted.
What should Oklahoma dove hunters do between now and the opener? Simple - grab the binoculars, burn a little gas, exercise some boot leather and go looking for small groups and big flocks of birds flying around food sources and waterholes.
“The best thing hunters can do right now is scout,” said Richardson, who noted that mornings and evenings are generally the best times to do so.
“Look for food sources nearby where you saw groups of birds and remember the native forbs are in excellent condition this year,” he added.
This year’s dove season across the Sooner State will feature a statewide first split that will run from Sept. 1-Oct. 31. The nine-day second split, also running statewide, will occur from Dec. 20-28.
The daily bag limit for doves is 15 per day while the possession limit is 30 in possession after the first day and 45 in possession after the second day combined.
ODWC said that the limit may consist of any combination (aggregate) of mourning, white-winged and fully dressed Eurasian collared doves (those without a head or fully feathered wing naturally attached to the carcass).
However, the agency does note that there is no bag limit on invasive Eurasian collared doves, provided that the head or one fully feathered wing remains naturally attached to the carcass of all such birds while being transported to their final destination.
Finally, dove hunters across Oklahoma are also reminded that they are required to have a valid hunting license or proof of exemption to legally hunt the migratory birds. And dove hunters must also have a free Harvest Information Program (HIP) permit. Both the hunting licenses and the HIP permit are available online at the ODWC Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com/.