Without debate, the Iowa Senate has voted to allow dove hunting in Iowa.

Senator Dick Dearden, a Democrat from Des Moines, said he has always been puzzled by the ban on dove hunting. “I moved to Iowa when I was 16 years and we used to walk about half a mile from our home…and we’d shoot a few rabbits and a squirrel now and then. And I never could understand why we didn’t have a dove season in Iowa because I’d see ’em flying past,” Dearden said during Senate debate. “I never thought…57 years ago that I’d be standing here today and floor managing a bill that would allow that.” 

The bill passed the senate on a 30 to 18 vote.  No one but Dearden spoke about the legislation.  Dearden has twice before tried to pass bills that would allow a hunting season for mourning doves.

“This is something that I’ve been very passionate about over the years and I’m glad this day has finally come,” Dearden told his senate colleagues this afternoon.

Dove hunting has been illegal in Iowa for nearly a century. As written, the legislation would direct officials in the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to set the date for a dove hunting season in the state.

Dearden, an avid hunter, hopes to hunt doves in Iowa soon.

“I think of the times that I’ve hunted with my sons and my grandson and my granddaughter and hopefully — if my oldest grandson gets going here — to have a great-grandchild to hunt with because I would like nothing more than to have four generations of us out hunting together,” Dearden said.

Listen to the senate action on the bill (mp3 lasts 4 minutes): DoveHunting

The bill now goes to the Iowa House for consideration.  Opponents of the proposal point to a recent poll which found 54 percent of Iowa voters oppose dove hunting, while only 25 percent of those surveyed support it.  In 2001 the Iowa legislature passed a bill that would have allowed dove hunting in the state, but then-Governor Tom Vilsack vetoed it. Governor Branstad has said he’ll sign it into law.