Hunters have few excuses for not pursuing doves
Missouri’s dove season runs from Sept. 1 through Nov. 9. The daily limit is 15. In years past, the possession limit was twice the daily limit. This year, however, the Missouri Conservation Commission increased the possession limit to 45.
Mourning doves make up the vast majority of Missouri’s dove harvest, but Eurasian collared doves and white-winged doves also are found in the Show-Me State and are legal during dove season. Missouri residents age 16 through 64 must buy a small game hunting permit to pursue doves. All dove hunters 16 and older must have a Missouri Migratory Bird Hunting Permit.
More than 20,000 Missourians hunt doves. Why do so many people pursue such a small bird? Partly because doves are challenging game. Doves’ popularity also stems from their abundance. When they aren’t humiliating hunters (who average approximately five shots per dove taken), doves are nesting. This year’s nesting season got off to a slow start on account of cool weather. On the whole, however, weather has been favorable, and the Conservation Department predicts a strong hatch.
Finding these spots is easy. Just visit mdc.mo.gov/node/8905 for a list of CAs with managed dove fields. Information available on the website includes maps showing the location of dove fields and the type of crop planted there.
A handful of CAs manage dove hunting through drawings to prevent over-crowding and ensure safety. These areas include:
Marais Temps Clair CA will hold drawings at 5 a.m. and refill hunting spots vacated throughout the day for up to the first week of dove season. After that it is open to statewide regulations. A valid area daily hunting tag and nontoxic shot are required. Availability of food and cover is similar to Columbia Bottom. Call 314-877-6014 for more information.
The Conservation Department bands approximately 2,500 birds annually as part of a nationwide effort to create a dove-management database. Approximately 12 percent of those doves are recovered and reported, mostly by hunters. Data from band recoveries drive a wide array of analytical processes that directly affect mourning dove regulations. By reporting band numbers, hunters are helping manage our dove resource for future generations.
The most important thing dove hunters can do to improve their sport is to check every bird they shoot for a leg band and report any they find at reportband.gov, or by calling 800-327-BAND (2263).
For dove recipes, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/4605.