Iowa’s third mourning dove season opened Sunday, and DNR wildlife biologist, Todd Bogenschutz says things have gone pretty well in the first two years.
“Hunter numbers are increasing, our harvest has increased, our guys are doing managed dove plots. Between massive flooding this year and rainfall, it’s been really problematic to do a lot of dove management — but other than that, it’s been good I think,” Bogenschutz says.
Hunter numbers increased from 8,870 in the first year to 9,328 in the second season. Hunters took just over 57,000 doves in that first season and followed that up with nearly 95,000 taken last year.
Dove hunting takes a different approach than you would use for pheasants, but Bogenchutz says it has some similarities to deer hunting.
“The thing with doves, it does take some scouting, so I guess for deer hunting it’s similar. You want scout an area where you are going to put your stand or where you are going to hunt, and the same thing is true with doves,” according to Bogenschutz.
“They like weed seeds or small grains, they like bare ground, they like being in the open. So, if you can find that combination of factors around the opener, you’re going to have pretty good hunting.” You may find yourself drawing a bead on local birds, or visitors from other states.
“We’ve got a pretty good resident population here in Iowa, but doves start nesting pretty early in the spring in May. And it’s not uncommon to have three or four nests in the summer. And those early birds up in North Dakota and Minnesota actually start migrating into Iowa in late August,” Bogenschutz says.
The season is 70-days, but Bogenschutz says things can literally go south if the weather turns cold. “We could have a lot of doves on say September 10th and if we have a hard frost in the next week, then probably 50-60-70-percent of the population could move out of the state in a couple of days,” Bogenschutz explains.
He says the DNR has information on areas where you can hunt on its website at: www.iowadnr.gov. Bogenschutz also reminds hunters they are required by federal law to have what’s called a HIP number since the doves are migratory birds. He says you get the number when you get your license.