Excitement builds as all signs point to successful hunting season

By Mac Friday



Alberta Newspaper Group


Dove Hunting Guide

After a successful season last year, many are poised for another fruitful year of dove hunting in Yuma County as the season rapidly approaches. With a rich history for dove hunting in Arizona, thousands of hunters are expected to flock to the southwestern corner of the state to hunt mourning, white-wing and Eurasian-collared dove in their annual roosting period. Possessing fertile fields and farmlands, the various habitats in the area provide ample roosting opportunities for dove. Michael Sumner, field supervisor of the Yuma branch of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, outlined many of the key aspects to look for when scoping out places to hunt. “Doves like to use the citrus plants as a roosting habitat and we have a lot of that, maybe not as much as we used to, but those habitats as well as others up and down the river are where they like to stay,” Sumner said. “The native habitats with mesquite trees and other restorations that have taken place, that’s all great stuff.” “We had a very good winter with our crops and produce, which usually bodes well for the dove season in the fall.” Yuma is buckling down for a large influx of hunters on opening weekend, which is expected to see the most traffic of the two-week hunting period. Major revenue comes to the city during this opportunity each year, with most income coming via hotels and purchases of gas, groceries and hunting materials. With the influx of hunters and business expected, both AZGFD and local hunting store owner Richard Sprague of Sprague’s Sports are gearing up for a busy weekend. Last year, due to the struggling American economy, Sprague and other outdoors stores were suffering from supply shortages, limiting the availability of hunting supplies. However, the supply status has significantly improved over the past year, resulting in much better numbers for last-minute acquisitions of supplies. Despite this, Sprague still encourages hunters to devise a plan for the days out in the field. “It was tough, but things have gotten a lot better,” he said. “We’ve managed to get back on our feet with our supplies and are in a much better position than we were last year with our stock, but we encourage hunters to still plan ahead and get all the things they need beforehand and not wait until the last minute. We’re hoping for a good sales season because of the passion and love the people out here have for hunting each year.” Another exciting feature of this year’s hunting season is the opener, which falls on a Friday morning. Thousands of hunters and their families are expected to spill in from the rest of the state, as well as California, sparking a busy weekend and a bustling economy for the weekend. “The season always opens in September and it’s exciting that it falls on a Friday this year,” Sumner said. “It’s going to be busy. You’ve got the hardcore traditional crowd from Yuma, as well as those who travel extensive miles and hours to show up whenever the day falls, which should be a good turnout this year. It’s a real driver for our economy.” “The locals are the majority of the participants, but we get people from San Diego, Los Angeles and other parts of Southern California who come in for this. They need a place to stay, so they purchase hotel rooms, buy gas, get groceries and eat at restaurants. Some like to have even more fun, going out to bars and movies and things of that nature, which is even more spending. They definitely spread money around for the two, three days they typically stay.” As the excitement builds and the countdown grows ever closer to Sept. 1, all signs are pointing in the right direction for a bountiful weekend, not only for the hunters, but also Yuma County as a whole “We think it’s going to be a pretty good season,” Sumner said. “We are seeing good numbers of dove and we had a good winter, which bodes well for the natural vegetation in the desert. With the Friday opener and those other factors coming together, it’s probably going to be pretty busy.”