It’s a blast from the past — for the first time in two decades, all-day dove hunting is returning to Arizona starting Sept. 1 for the early season, which ends Sept. 15.
Read all about it in the “Arizona Dove and Band-tailed Pigeon Regulations 2010-11” that have been distributed to licensed dealers statewide and are also available online at www.azgfd.gov.
The Sandhill Crane Regulations have also been posted and distributed.
This year there is a new juniors-only crane hunt near Gila Bend in addition to the one in Units 30A, 30B, 31 and 32. The crane hunts are by drawing only. The application period started Aug. 2 and the deadline for the department to receive applications is Aug. 31 (postmarks don’t count).
The early season half-day dove hunting restrictions were eliminated by the Game and Fish Commission this past June due to a number of changes the state has experienced, according to Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists.
“The half-day dove hunting restrictions were implemented in 1989 in response to declining numbers of both mourning doves and white-winged doves,” said Mike Rabe, small-game program supervisor.
Since that time, dove-hunting participation has declined and places to hunt doves near urban centers have also declined, explained Rabe.
“As a result, Arizona dove hunters must travel farther to hunt doves and few hunters participate,” Rabe said.
In addition, recent data indicates current harvest rates are low and doves are abundant.
Game and Fish conducted a hunter survey in March and a majority of hunters said they favor lifting the half-day hunt restrictions.
Rabe pointed out that removing the half-day restrictions also eliminates the need for two hunting zones for the early dove season. “This sure makes it much more simple for our hunters, and us too,” he said.
Don’t forget that once again this year, there is a juniors-only dove hunt at the Robbins Butte Wildlife Area near Buckeye Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 4-5. Following the morning hunt each day, the Chandler Rod and Gun Club will be providing its famous pancake breakfast on site for the young hunters and their mentors.
Shooting stations will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis unless there are more people desiring to participate than available shooting stations, and then a drawing will be held. But those who routinely work the hunt say a drawing has never been necessary yet.
Also keep in mind that the late dove season is Nov. 19 through Jan. 2.
“This late season is mourning doves only — all the white-winged doves will have migrated south. But it’s a much more leisurely hunt — the best times to hunt are in the late afternoon,” Rabe said.