Arizona Dove Outlook
The dove hunting outlook is favorable — it should be as good or slightly better than last year. Excellent winter and spring rains resulted in abundant seeds being produced, especially in the desert and foothill areas. Such seed production is one of the linchpins to mourning dove reproduction. The other is having good summer rainfall.

As in the past, there is a 15-day early dove season starting September 1. Once again this year, there is morning-only hunting in the lower elevation hunt management units, and all day in the high country units.

Juniors up through age 17 will be able to hunt all day in both zones. Keep in mind that youth from age 14 through 17 must be licensed. Dove hunters younger than age 14 must be accompanied by a licensed adult.

"The all-day hunting for juniors was established to allow youngsters to hunt doves after school. This also gives mom or dad a chance to do some one-on-one training of the young hunter, without being distracted by carrying a shotgun themselves," said Public Information Officer Rory Aikens.

The popular Juniors-Only Dove Season at the Powers Butte Wildlife Area near Buckeye is set for the weekend of September 8-9. Youth are eligible to participate up to and throughout the calendar year of their 17th birthday.

"Most young hunters at Powers Butte get pretty enthusiastic about their experience. One young girl a few years ago said that the youth hunt was 'more fun than Disneyland.' It's certainly a hunt you won't want your youngsters to miss," Aikens said.

Preliminary data for the 2000 September dove season indicates the number of people hunting mourning doves was slightly lower than the previous year, and the harvest was down slightly. The number of participants hunting white-winged doves was higher in 2000, but the harvest dropped for the third straight year.

"The decline in both mourning dove and white-winged dove harvest that was predicted last year did occur, but was not as great as anticipated. The good summer rains that fell over most of the state last summer may have helped dove reproduction," explained Game Branch Chief Tice Supplee.

Dove call counts are conducted each year the last week of May. The 2001 Call Count Index for mourning doves was up 3.5 percent from 2000 and the call count index for white-winged doves dropped 10.9 percent.

"Based on climatic conditions the dove season should be similar or slightly better than last year, especially if the state enjoys another good year of summer rains," Supplee said.

A positive hunting trend wildlife officials documented again last year was the increased hunter participation in the late dove season. The number of hunters hunting the late season for mourning doves increased slightly and the harvest decreased — but it was still higher than three years ago. Birds per day per hunter have increased for the fourth straight year during the late season.

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