Arizona Dove Hunters Can Extend Their Wingshooting by Heading to the Mountains

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Arizona Dove hunters can extend their wingshooting by heading to the mountainsPHOENIX —  The early dove season closes Monday, Sept. 15, but wingshooters can extend their wingshooting opportunities by heading to the high country and pursuing band-tailed pigeons, blue grouse and chukar partridge beginning this Friday, Sept. 12

After hunting dove in unseasonably hot desert temperatures, a retreat up north, where the daytime temperatures typically only reach 80 degrees, may be just what the doctor ordered. Band-tailed pigeons, blue grouse and chukar offer wingshooters a challenging and rewarding experience as well as great eating.

“The forecast for all three species looks to be above average to good thanks to the excellent snow and rainfall we received this winter,” says Randy Babb, Game and Fish biologist and avid hunter. “That precipitation brings the plants, bugs, seeds and acorns that are needed for new recruitment and healthy populations.”

Band-tailed pigeon season is divided into two zones. The northern zone is open from Sept. 12 to Oct. 5, while the southern zone opens Sept. 19 and runs through the same closing date of Oct. 5 (see regulations for boundaries). Band-tails inhabit ponderosa pine forests, or dense stands of evergreen oaks and pines between 4,500 and 9,100 feet elevation. They can be found in mid-morning visiting water holes and typically are in areas with high concentrations of oak acorns, elderberries, and pinion nuts . For more details, see the 2008-09 Arizona Dove and Band-tailed Pigeon Regulations at www.azgfd.gov/rules.

Blue GrouseBlue grouse season runs from Sept. 12 to Nov. 16. Blue grouse are bluish-gray, chicken- sized birds restricted to subalpine elevations above 8,500 feet in mixed conifer and aspen forests. Birds can be found at the edges of the forest and meadow areas foraging for food. (old logging roads are good places to hunt in appropriate habitat.) Grouse hunters are reminded that Units 4A and 5A are closed, and to be certain of their target: baby turkey (poults) look similar to blue grouse. Turkey can only be hunted with a special hunt permit-tag. For more details see the 2008-09 Arizona Hunting and Trapping Regulations at www.azgfd.gov/rules.

Chukar partridge season is liberal and runs from Sept. 12, 2008 – Feb. 8, 2009. However, Arizona has an extremely limited population of chukar. Good starting points for attempting this hunt can be found in the rough canyon country of Snake Gulch and Kanab Creek north of the Grand Canyon. For more details see the 2008-09 Arizona Hunting and Trapping Regulations at www.azgfd.gov/rules.

Any of these hunts can be combined with a family camping vacation and offer a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind. Besides the hunting aspect, getting outdoors is a great way to teach youngsters about wildlife and nature.

For more information about small game hunting in Arizona, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Web site www.azgfd.gov/hunting.