The sixth dove hunting season opens today across Iowa.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Todd Bogenschutz expects hunters to find a lot of targets.
“We don’t count doves on our roadside surveys, they are usually counted by the Fish and Wildlife Service through some of their surveys,” Bogenschutz says. “But anecdotally from our staff doing the roadside surveys — it seems doves are pretty abundant this year along the roadsides — so we are expecting our dove opener to be a pretty productive one providing we had good weather.”
Bogenschutz says the best approach is to scout out your hunting area before you go. He says there are a lot of managed dove plots on public and they have a list of them on their website.
Doves like small grains, which are not that plentiful in Iowa, but he says the season has developed. “It is challenging to find places to hunt. But we have been running about 12,000 hunters and they’ve been harvesting about 100 to 150,000 doves. I think that’s pretty respectable numbers if you look at surrounding states,” according to Bogenschutz. “Will it continue to grow in future years? I think we will have to wait and see.”
Doves offer a new challenge to hunters who’ve been used to shooting pheasants, as Bogenschutz says they are without a doubt the toughest to hit. He says doves are talented at flying, while pheasants, quail and partridge are more straight line flyers.
Other hunting tips from the DNR say the best times to hunt doves are morning and evenings when the birds are most active. The dove season runs through November 9th, with shooting hours set at one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. There’s a daily limit of 15 and a possession limit of 45.