Arizona Dove Opener Report
Mourning dove numbers are down and a late-August storm pushed a lot of the white-winged doves south, yet mild daytime temperatures resulted in many hunters staying afield to harvest limits, advised Arizona Game and Fish Department officials.

"Our predictions for below average dove availability seemed to be offset in large part by the cooler daytime temperatures. A lot of hunters stayed afield until midmorning, and many even stayed out until the noon cutoff for adult hunting. Dove hot spots may have been spotty, but the great weather made it an excellent time to be afield," said Public Information Officer Rory Aikens.

Aikens added that some hunters even took advantage of the time afield and harvested rabbits to supplement their dove table fare.

The opportunity to get afield dove hunting and enjoy the unseasonably mild weather was marred by the fact that a host of license dealers, especially in Maricopa County, ran out of Migratory Bird Stamps.

"We did a great job of getting the word out that dove hunters need a $3 Migratory Bird Stamp. Unfortunately, we didn't do as good a job in getting sufficient numbers of those stamps to the license dealers. A lot of hunters couldn't get stamps and were justifiably angry. We did do a special shipping of additional stamps last week, but a lot of dealers may not have gotten them during the Labor Day weekend," said Information Branch Chief Joe Janisch.

Initial indications from game officers afield seem to indicate that more junior hunters (up to age 17) this year seemed to be afield for their late-afternoon hunts. "We'll know more when the final numbers come in through our surveys, but it seems the word is out about the afternoon dove hunting availability for youth during the early dove season. Once again, the mild weather may have had something to do with it," Aikens said.

The dove season remains open through September 15. The late dove season opens November 24. Late summer rains in southeastern Arizona could make that area a late dove season hot spot. "Those out quail hunting when the season opens October 13 may want to keep their eyes peeled to spot dove for the late season come November 24," Aikens advised.

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