Doves Greet Hunters on Arizona Opening Dove Hunting Day

Mourning Dove - Joe Ferreira
Mourning Dove – Joe Ferreira
Arizona Game and Fish Department
Arizona Game and Fish Department

Arizona -( When it comes to premier dove hunting, there’s no place – certainly not in the U.S. — that offers better wing-shooting action than Yuma.

It’s a reputation that’s well-deserved. Banners on street poles welcome hunters by the thousands. Hotels and restaurants are packed. The lead story on the cover of Monday’s Yuma Sun newspaper? Dove hunting.

It’s a festival-like atmosphere, drawing thousands of dove hunters from across the state and Southwest who pump $2 million to $5 million into the city’s economy, according to the Yuma Visitors Bureau.

A group of eight hunters, including a California couple whose outdoors passions include bird hunting throughout North America, couldn’t wait for the sun to come up Tuesday morning and usher in the beginning of the 2015 season. They would be hunting private farmland near Tacna, about 40 miles east of Yuma, in a field of wheat stubble edged by cottonwood trees and thick scrub.

It wasn’t long after first light when a wave of mourning doves came darting and diving across the field, providing a flurry of fast-paced shooting action. The flights weren’t steady, but there were more than enough doves – from singles all the way up to small groups containing six, eight, 10 birds – for most of the hunters to fill their 15-bird daily bag limit before mid-morning. A few of the larger white-winged doves made up part of those limits, and even one bigger and lighter-colored Eurasian collared-dove was taken. There is no limit on Eurasians, an invasive species.

The season runs through Sept. 15. The daily bag limit is 15 mourning doves and white-winged doves, of which no more than 10 may be white-winged. The possession limit is 45 mourning doves and white-winged doves in the aggregate after opening day, of which no more than 15 may be taken in any one day. Of the 45-dove possession limit, only 30 may be white-winged, of which no more than 10 may be taken in any one day. Again, there is no daily bag or possession limit on Eurasian collared-doves.

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