Arizona Hunters Get Second Shot at Doves Beginning Friday

Arizona Dove Hunter
Arizona Dove Hunter

PHOENIX, Ariz. -( Arizona dove hunters will be able to double their wing-shooting pleasure when the state’s “second” season begins Friday, Nov. 24.

Unlike the 15-day season that begins Sept. 1, the late season lasts 45 days and runs through Jan. 7, 2018. There still is a 15-bird daily bag limit, all of which must be mourning doves.

The possession limit remains 45 mourning doves after opening day, of which no more than 15 may be taken in any one day. As always, there is an unlimited daily bag and possession limit for the invasive Eurasian collared-dove.

Here are a few things to remember to make the most of the upcoming season:

  • A license for youth hunters ages 10 to 17 is only $5. Children 9 and under do not need a license when accompanied by a licensed adult (two children per adult). Licenses can be purchased from any license dealer, regional department office or online at NOTE: All department offices will be closed Thursday, Nov. 23, in observance of Thanksgiving. All offices will reopen 8 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24.
  • Hunters 18 and older must purchase an Arizona migratory bird stamp for $5 from any license dealer, regional department office or online at
  • Shooting hours are 30 minutes before legal sunrise until legal sunset. On opening day in the Phoenix area, legal sunrise will be 7:08 a.m. Figure up to nine minutes earlier for eastern areas and nine minutes later for western areas.
  • One fully feathered wing must remain attached to each harvested dove until it reaches the hunter’s home.
  • Keep in mind that dove hunters are responsible for cleaning up after themselves. Shell casings (shotgun hulls) and associated debris constitute litter and must be picked up and packed out. Littering while hunting or fishing are revocable violations, and a conviction can result in the loss of hunting privileges for up to five years.
  • For everything “dove,” visit

Dove hunters play an important role in conservation. Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR) funds are comprised of excise taxes collected on the sale of hunting and fishing equipment (including 11 percent on ammunition), the benefit of which comes right back to Arizona for habitat improvements, shooting ranges, boating access and more.

Dove Hunting and Trapping History:

Mourning dove

Prior to statehood this species was hunted primarily in conjunction with white-winged dove, and spring and summer shooting over grain fields was a common occurrence. In 1929, however, state and federal regulations curtailed the mourning dove season in Arizona to between September 1 and December 15, and established a 20-bird bag limit. As with the white-winged dove, the glory days of mourning dove shooting were in the 1960s and 1970s, when more than 100,000 hunters reported harvesting up to 2.5 million mourning doves a year. Although still ranked as one of Arizona’s two most important game birds, mourning dove hunting has since fallen off due to urban expansion, changing farm practices, and more restrictive season arrangements. Questionnaire surveys indicate that during the past 10 years, an average of from 45,000 to 60,000 hunters bagged from 1 million to 1.3 million doves each year.

White-winged dove

A favorable combination of nesting cover and grain crops resulted in two great heydays of whitewinged doves hunting in Arizona. The first of these was in the years prior to World War I, and the second was during the years after World War II. So plentiful were these birds that the bag limit was 25 per day and 50 in possession. Numbers peaked in the 1960s when, in 1968, an all-time record harvest of more than 3/4 million was reached. Since then, declining nesting habitat and the virtual replacement of grain farming by cotton and alfalfa have greatly reduced whitewing hunting opportunities. After reaching a low of 86,000 birds harvested in 1980, whitewing harvests have again gradually increased.

Collared doves

Both of these birds have been taken incidentally by hunters during dove season. As Eurasian numbers increased and became more common the first official season for them was established in 2006 that ran concurrent with the regular dove season. This was expanded in 2007 to be a year round season with an unlimited bag as neither bird is covered under the jurisdiction of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The discovery of the persistent populations of African Collared Doves was fairly recent, so they too will likely be added to the regulations with the same season as Eurasians in 2009.

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