Dove season marks the beginning of fall for many hunters

KDWP Managed Dove Hunting Areas

The Kansas dove season opened statewide on Sept. 1, and the first segment runs through Oct. 14. The final segment is Nov. 1-16.

It’s no wonder hunters look forward to dove season so much. The mourning dove is the most abundant game bird in North America, and it’s one of the most popular with hunters. In Kansas, an average of 36,000 hunters will harvest 800,000 doves each year. And Sept. 1 marks the first hunting season of the year, so anticipation is high.

KDWP reminds hunters to check the birds they harvest for bands. Since 2003, biologists have been trapping and banding doves to learn more about hunting’s impact on dove populations. The bands are small, so hunters will need to check their birds carefully. Hunters who take banded birds are asked to call 1-800-327-BAND (2263) to provide necessary information. Hunters can keep the bands and will be provided with a certificate that provides information about the age, sex and banding location of the bird.

This season, some hunters may be asked to provide a wing from each dove they harvest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This is a pilot project to discover if a nationwide wing survey is feasible. Biologists will use submitted wings to identify the ratio of immature to adult birds in the harvest, which will help them estimate reproductive output.
Mourning doves are prolific nesters and Kansas is generally one of the top nesting states, according to call-count surveys done in May and June. Doves build flimsy nests in trees or on the ground, so severe weather can impact nest success. However, they are persistent and by late summer, Kansas dove numbers are usually high. Scouting trips may expose large numbers of birds gathering near watering holes, feed fields or roosts.

Good locations for early-season dove hunts include worked wheat and corn fields, cut sunflower fields and water holes. And a roost site can provide some fast, furious shooting just before sunset. Doves prefer open, lightly vegetated feeding areas, and waterholes with open or bare banks will draw more birds than those with brushy banks. Many Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks public hunting areas will some manage fields for dove hunting. CLICK HERE to go the KDWP list of Managed Hunting Areas.