Dove Season to Kick Off Fall Hunting in Oklahoma
Last year’s dove season took on some unusual qualities. Not only did the 2007 dove season come after an unusually rainy year that created muddy conditions and forced many farmers to harvest their grain fields later than normal, but some hunters also took part in a new season format with the formation of the southwest zone, which offered additional hunting opportunities during late December and early January. Biologists say the circumstances of last year’s dove season did not appear to affect the success of hunters, however.
“Last year, the rainy conditions may have had some affect on certain areas where hunters were used to finding higher concentrations of birds most years, so some hunters may have had to look at different areas to hunt,” said Rod Smith, southwest region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “But dove hunters are persistent, and they were able to locate some good areas and found plenty of birds. This year, though, the management of crops is pretty much back to normal, and we should have a good year.”
The southwest zone will be open again this year as well. The season for the southwest zone is the same as the statewide season — Sept.1 – Oct.30 — but also Dec. 27 – Jan. 5. The southwest zone starts on U.S. 62 from the Texas border west of Hollis, east to Interstate 44, Interstate 44 south to OK 7, OK 7 east to U.S. 81 and U.S. 81 south to the Texas border at the Red River. Regulations for the rest of the state have not changed.
Dove hunting is wildly popular in Oklahoma. In fact, with the exception of the opening day of the deer rifle season, there are more Oklahomans in the field on the opening day of dove season each year than at any other time.
Dove hunting is a favorite for several reasons. For starters, there is plenty of action. Youngsters and adults alike can have an enjoyable yet challenging hunt in Oklahoma no matter where they choose to hunt. Dove can be found from one corner of the state to the next, but hunters do not have to travel far to find them. Excellent hunting can be found on wildlife management areas managed by the Wildlife Department, some of which have been managed specifically for doves. Additionally, persistent dove hunters can often obtain permission from landowners to hunt private land, such as those where grain fields have been recently harvested.
Dove season is even more appealing to new hunters because it offers two days of free hunting. September 6-7 marks Oklahoma’s Free Hunting Days, and Oklahoma residents do not need a hunting license, fishing and hunting legacy permit or HIP permit to go afield.
Dove hunters also enjoy a generous daily limits of 15 doves, except in the southwest zone, where the daily limit is 12 doves. The limit may consist of any combination of mourning doves, white-winged doves and Eurasian collared doves.
To hunt doves, sportsmen need a hunting license and a fishing and hunting legacy permit, unless exempt. Additionally, all hunters, unless otherwise exempt, must carry a Harvest Information Permit (HIP) while afield. For complete hunting license information and dove hunting regulations, be sure to pick up a copy of the “2008-09 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” at a sporting goods retailer or at wildlifedepartment.com.