Dove Hunting Guide
BY JEAN WILSON
The Sept. opener of Arizona’s Early Dove Season for Yuma County is always a really huge and exciting time for our community, with hunters coming in from all over to take to the fields with expectations of a good harvest. The Early Season runs through Sept. 15. This annual event sees the skies filled with doves flying all over, and this year is no exception. Game and Fish finds this year to be a great dove year with a good population of both mourning and whitewinged doves in residence. Our 2020 Dove Hunt promises to be a satisfying and productive adventure for everyone taking to the fields with shotgun in hand. Plan on getting set up early at your chosen hunt spot and ready to take that first shot by sunrise – Yuma areas at 6:09 a.m. with current required hunt license and bird stamp in hand. The first day’s hunt ends at sunset at 6:59 p.m. (check sunrise/sunset hours for all hunt days in the dove regulations). Pick up a copy of the regulations from a sports dealer in town to be familiar with any possible changes/additions since last year to know all the do’s and don’ts or just read through it as a review to be sure you haven’t forgotten something. A reminder that open areas for the hunt DO NOT include areas within the City of Yuma, municipal parks, municipal preserves, county parks or preserves, airports, golf courses or posted water treatment facilities (except as specified opened in these Commission Orders or areas closed to hunting). Other dove hunt areas are noted in the regulations on the Page of Notes for specific closed and open areas for doves, so be sure to check that over should your hunt take you away from the Yuma area. Birds need grains and grain fields already cut along with water to drink – check out irrigated fields – and trees for doves to roost – keep those in mind when choosing your hunt spot. Adults 18 and older must have in their possession a valid hunt or combination license along with a Arizona Migratory Bird Stamp while ages 10-17 must only have in their possession a valid ($5) youth combination license. Youth 16 years of age and older are required to purchase a federal waterfowl stamp. Get your license (and bird stamp) at the Arizona Game and Fish Department Region IV office at 9140 E. 28th St. (928-342-0091) or local dealers including at Big Five Sporting Goods located at 505 W. Catalina Dr. (928726-2884), Sprague’s Sports Shop, 345 W. 32nd St. (928-726-0022), Walmart (Central Yuma) at 2900 S. Pacific Ave. (928-344--0992), Walmart (West Yuma at 2501 S. Ave. B (929-317-2776), Walmart (Foothills) at 8151 E. 32nd St. (928-344-5974), C-A-L Ranch Stores, 529 W. 32nd St. (928-343-7700), Sportsman’s Warehouse, 1000 S. Castle Dome Ave. (928615-3200). The daily bag limit for Arizona’s Early Dove Season for mourning and whitewinged doves is 15 total, with no more than 10 being white-winged doves; possession limit: 45 total with no more than 30 being white-winged doves. Reminder: Statewide Eurasian Collared-dove Season is year around with unlimited daily bag and possession limits (they may be a nuisance at times but are good eating). Migratory game birds may be taken only with a 10-gauge or smaller shotgun capable of holding no more than three shells (two in the magazine and one in the chamber), unless it is plugged with a onepiece filler, incapable of removal without disassembling the gun, so its total capacity does not exceed three shells. Birds also may be taken by falconry, by bow and arrow or crossbow. Pneumatic weapons are legal only for use on Eurasian collared-doves. An Arizona Migratory bird stamp is not required for the take of Eurasian collareddoves. Remember to check the legs on all migratory birds for leg bands. If you get a banded bird, learn more about the bird and where it was banded by submitting the number information to: reportband.gov. As a hunter, make sure you are familiar with the commandments of firearm safety and keep them in mind while hunting: • Treat every firearm as if it is loaded. Never assume a firearm is unloaded. • Always control the direction of the firearm’s muzzle. • Never pull a firearm toward you by the muzzle. • Be sure of your target and what is beyond it. Another hunter could be in front of or behind your target. • Be sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions and that you have only ammunition of the proper size for the firearm you’re carrying. • Unload any firearms when not in use and leave the actions open. Firearms should be carried unloaded and in protective cases when in the vehicle. • Never point a firearm at anything you do not want to shoot. • Never allow horseplay with or around a firearm. • Never use alcoholic beverages or drugs that effect your behavior before or while shooting with a firearm or bow. A few reminders for us all: • Do not shoot within 1/4 mile (440 yards) of an occupied structure while hunting unless you have permission. • Do not shoot from across or into roads or railways. • Do not leave shotgun shells or other litter on the ground – always practice “Leave it better than you find it” and always take your litter away with you for proper disposal. “Pack it in, pack it out” as the saying goes. Very important: We want to continue keeping good relations with our farmers by leaving their areas where we hunt clean without litter once we’re done with our hunt so we’ll be welcome to hunt there again another time. Other tips: • To help take flying doves, stay close to shade rather than standing in the open when you ready to shoot. If there are no trees close, try standing by a telephone pole, bush or other structure so you aren’t seen clearly by the flying dove. • It’s a good idea to wear long sleeves and hat or cap – it’ll help keep you cool. Our sun is hot and gnats and other flying insects are out in force when our weather turns muggy and humid like it is now, especially in early mornings. • Bug repellent with DEET is handy to have along. • Always carry more water than you think you’ll need – be sure to drink enough water to keep hydrated – no heat strokes allowed! If you get too hot, get wet – it’ll keep you cooler. • A camp chair is a real comfort after standing while waiting for the birds. • Leave one fully feathered wing attached to the bird for identification until reaching your permanent residence or where the wildlife will be consumed. • Keep individual limits of birds separate from others while in the field, in the cooler and in transit. • Respect postings on private land and leave gates as found. • Make a reasonable effort to retrieve all downed birds. • Report violations to Operation Game Thief at 800-352-0700. • Always be aware of your surroundings” – Know where other shooters are and what they are doing. This holds true when retrieving your bird from the field as well. Practice DOES make perfect: For some really great practice prior to taking to the field for the dove hunt, get in on the Yuma Trap and Skeet Club’s Pre-season Shoot on Aug. 30 at Adair Park, located approximately 15 miles northeast of Yuma off Highway 95 (turn west on Adair Range Road – the first range on the right). Shooting will begin at 7 a.m. until they can’t get a full squad. Pay $5 per round, and you’ll have a good chance to win $15 cash. Hearing and eye protection is required for all shooters, with proceeds from the shoot to benefit the youth Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP). Questions? Call Bob Avila at 928-919-0622. Bad news for ladies hoping to get into the Annual Women’s Dove Hunt again this year with Katherine Thompson at Region IV Game and Fish. It had to be canceled this year because of distance and virus problems. However, Katherine will begin Hunt Work Shops for women-only as soon as it is safe to do so – get your contact number to her at 928-342-0091 if you are interested. The Clint Curry Memorial Annual Youth Dove Hunt will still take place Sept. 5 hosted by Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club at the Moore Farm (Tractor on a Stick) in Dome Valley. Huge thank you to sponsors Vortex and Sprague’s Sports for their assistance. Because of group gathering restrictions, getting together at the registration table on site will need to be regulated. Be safe, stay safe! Arrival and sign-in the morning of the 5th at 5 a.m. prior to the hunt that day will be followed by a safety briefing and being directed to the hunt spot for each youth and their parent or other responsible adult. Youths and their parents interested in taking part MUST pre-register at http://www. register-ed.com/events/view/160756 with Region IV of AZ Game and Fish – or call 928 342-0091. A head count is necessary – the distancing requirement is for safety of one and all. Mentors will be on hand to assist with Game and Fish personnel on site as well as members of YVRGC also on hand to keep it safe, fun and productive for everyone. For safety in numbers for groups getting together, the usual lunch after the hunt had to be canceled this year. However, after the hunt, there will be a great raffle for the youngsters who have taken part. If you have questions, call Pat Headington, event chair, at 928 257-8143 or email Pat at firstname.lastname@example.org. Flyers are available with full information that includes a map and directions to Moore Farm and this youth event. Call Pat to have one emailed to you, or email me at jeanrenegade@gmail. com or give me a call at 928-247-4450 and ask for a flyer. When you finish hunting for the day and would like to cool off, visit Gateway Park on the Arizona side of the Colorado River from 1st Street and Main/downtown Yuma. Relax and swim in the cool river waters – depths vary in various places and current can be very strong so check it out before jumping in, and take advantage of shady cabanas along the shore. Grills are at the park for cooking, and there are restrooms and a parking lot above the park. Also visit Downtown Main Street in Yuma. We won’t have the great Dove Cook-off this year because of the virus restrictions, but my bet is it’ll be one of the biggest events taking place next time around. Downtown Yuma is an interesting place to check out things from the past and present. Also If you haven’t visited the Yuma Territorial Prison, give it a visit and enjoy! Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club will conduct the Annual Jim Breck Memorial Dove Derby Sept. 7 with Bill Roosma 928503-6392 chairing the event. Please refer to all CDC Guidelines before planning to attend any upcoming event. Keep in mind, this event is always the first Monday in September every year. It is also for members-only with lots of great FREE prizes and FREE raffles for those attending. If you’re not a member but might want to get in on it, pay your membership fee to Becky Pope, email her at maybhunting@ gmail.com or call 928-502-0121 prior to Aug. 31. Entry fees for those attending: 1. Youth class 15 and under is FREE to sign up when accompanied by an adult, 2. Male and female entry fee: $5, 3. Shooting honor system with only 25 shells allowed, 4. The objective: 1 limit of 15 doves, reporting on time, and the fewest shells used (15 mourning; or 10 white wing & 5 mourning), 5. Summary of Rules: 1 limit + time reporting in + fewest shells used = WINNER, 6. Hunters’ choice of hunting location. 7. NEW MEETING LOCATION THIS YEAR – Rendezvous will be at the Yuma Mounted Posse Grounds on south Avenue A on East County 14th – watch for sign, right side of Ave. A. Meeting Time: 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 am with “drop dead” check in and bird count at 9 a.m. sharp. 8. Bottled water will be available at the event (Sorry, no lunch this year). No seating available so please bring along your own chair if would like to sit down and take a break after your morning hunt. 9. MUST be signed up by 5 p.m. Sept. 1 and entry fee must be paid (NO LATE ENTRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED) SIGN UP AT: Sprague’s, Saturday August 22 from 9 a.m. to 11a.m. with chairman Bill Roosma at 928-503-6392.A sign-up sheet will be available at The Hideaway from Saturday Aug. 15 to Tuesday Sept. 1 until 5 p.m. (The Hideaway is located 2585 E 16th St STE B, Yuma, AZ 85365 or call Edgar at (928) 783-0010 for directions.). For those who come to hunt and visit our Yuma area, good luck on your hunting and have a great time while here. Do remember distancing when with other people and the same for one and all to keep you safe, well, and ready to hunt again another time. We hope to see you next year!