LITTLE ROCK – With dove hunting season opening Saturday, Sept. 1, Arkansans have a chance to get into the action a little or a lot. It’s their choice.
For many, dove season means the opening weekend. For a smaller percentage of hunters, dove season is an option and an opportunity covering 70 days in two segments – Sept. 1-Oct. 25 and Dec. 26-Jan. 9.
The outlook is good for this dove season despite the hot, dry weather of summer. Doves are prolific, and their numbers appear strong all over Arkansas. Daily bag limit is 15, possession limit is 30, and there is no limit on Eurasian collared doves, an invasive species. Be se sure you can identify these if you run across them. Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
Doves are classified as migratory birds, so federal authorities set the general rules. Only shotguns can be used, and these can’t hold more than three shells. Lead shot is allowed except on some federal wildlife refuges. You have to be HIP, meaning registered for the Harvest Information Program. This is free and can be done at any Arkansas Game and Fish Commission office, license dealer or online at www.agfc.com.
Most Arkansas dove hunters choose No. 7½ or No. 8 loads for their shotguns. Most also prefer improved cylinder or modified chokes.
Some dove hunting tips from the Game and Fish Commission:
* Make sure there is no bait, even spilled grain, on the field you are hunting.
* Do not shoot at low-flying birds. Always shoot skyward.
* Wear safety glasses or goggles and a cap with a bill to help protect your eyes from falling shot.
* When retrieving downed birds, visually mark the location before you leave your shooting location. Be sure other hunters in the area are aware that you are entering the field.
* Do not attempt to shoot at doves while retrieving a downed bird or when you are away from your shooting location.
* Do not hunt doves outside of the boundaries of the dove field.
* Be an ethical hunter by never shooting a roosting dove:
* Do not load your gun until you've reached your hunting location on the field. Unload your gun before you leave.
* Know the location of other hunters – if any – on the field and make sure they are aware of your location.
* Don’t shoot doves perched on electrical or telephone lines.