September 1st is the day that signals dove hunting season has begun! From the 1st to the 15th of September, most hotel and motel rooms in Gila Bend will be booked solid because the desert around Gila Bend is prime harvesting territory for every Arizona Dove variety. Arizona dove species can typically be found along washes and riverbeds that run alongside farmland, and among the Sonoran Desert brushland.
If you are a first-time dove hunter, the first thing at the top of your list should be to check season dates. States like Arizona, have an early and a late dove season (there’s also a Falconry Dove Hunt season!). The Arizona game and fish website should provide all the information needed, but we have included most of the necessary info right here, just keep on reading!
Besides getting your shotgun and your hunting license, Arizona requires dove hunters age 18+ to participate in the Harvest Information Program (HIP). This means you are required to purchase a Migratory Bird Stamp, and it must be kept on your person. Youth hunters aged 12 to 17 only need a Youth Combination License with them. As luck would have it, you can purchase both your license and the stamp online at www.azgfd.com/license/. If you are in the Gila Bend area, you can also stop by the local hardware store and pick up a license and stamp at Hometown Hardware, 219 West Pima St. or call 928-683-2758. For a complete guide to Dove hunting regulations, the Arizona Game & Fish Department has created a comprehensive download available here:
Dove Season Breakdown:
SEASON - Sept 1st through Sept 15th 2021 (Any Mourning or White-winged Dove) The daily bag limit is 15 total doves (mourning and white-winged), of which no more than 10 can be white-winged. The possession limit is 45 total doves after opening day, of which no more than 30 can be white-winged.
LATE SEASON - Nov 19th, 2021 through Jan 2nd, 2022 (Any Mourning Dove) Bag and possession limits are 15 and 45 mourning doves respectively.
YEAR ROUND - Eurasian Collared Dove, there are no daily bag or possession limits for the invasive Eurasian Collared Dove.
Get To Know the Doves:
The Mourning Dove is the most common and widely occurring game bird in Arizona. This dove can be differentiated from its white-winged cousin by its overall brown color, a lack of white on all but the outer tail feathers, the presence of black spots on the upper wing surfaces, and the distinctive rattling whistle that is emitted by the bird’s wing feathers when it takes flight.
The White-Winged Dove differs from the more widespread mourning dove in having an overall grayer plumage, a white-tipped tail, and the white wing epaulets that give the bird its name. Adults can be distinguished by an un-feathered bright blue eye patch, red feet, and eyes that range from yellow-orange to orange-red.
The Inca Dove is the color of desert sands. Its tan feathers are edged in dark brown creating a scaly pattern over the entire body. Its underparts and face are paler than its back. In flight, the underwings flash a rich chestnut and the outer tail feathers flash white.
Eurasian Collared-Doves are an invasive species to North America and are a larger dove that is chalky light brown to gray-buff with broad white patches in the tail. The bird’s collar is a narrow black crescent around the nape of the neck. In flight and when perched, the wingtips are darker than the rest of the wing.
Top 10 Do's and Don'ts For Hunting:
Wildlife managers want hunters to have a safe, fun and violation-free time dove hunting. These are the top 10 infractions for which citations are written every season:
DO NOT shoot within ¼ mile (440 yards) of an occupied structure without the resident’s permission.
DO NOT shoot from, across or into roads or railways.
DO NOT leave shotgun shells or other litter on the ground.
DO NOT hunt over waters all day. (Allow time for livestock to access waters)
DO NOT consume drugs or alcohol while hunting or handling firearms.
DO leave one fully feathered wing attached to the bird for identification until you reach your permanent residence or where the dove will be consumed.
DO keep individual limits of birds separate from others while in the field, in the cooler and in transit.
DO respect postings on private land and leave gates as you found them.
DO make a reasonable effort to retrieve all downed birds.
DO report violations to Operation Game Thief: 1-800-352-0700.
We are excited for this year's season and we are flush with doves! Please follow ALL regulations, Federal, State, and Local laws during your stay here. For more information on where you can and cannot hunt for dove, dove legal requirements, and a Sunrise/Sunset guide, please read the Dove Regulations provided by Arizona Game and Fish: