Many Oklahoma hunters like Jason Grace looked forward to the statewide opener of dove season on Thursday. The opening of the dove season is a family tradition in the Grace family.
“Before I even carried a gun, I was dove hunting with my dad, watching birds and picking up dead birds,” the 36-year-old ranch manager said. “I fell in love with it when I was little and that’s how I want my boys to be raised.”
Dove hunting is the traditional kickoff to the fall hunting seasons and the fast-flying, acrobatic birds offer a challenge to any wing shooter.
Opening day is a social gathering for many who hunt with family and friends. They will spend a morning blasting shotguns in a field of doves and hopefully packing enough birds to grill dove breasts or have chicken fried dove for lunch later in the day. .
“It’s a lot of fun,” Grace said of the dove hunt. “It’s normally a lot of fast action. I’ve bred golden retrievers since I was 17 and can’t wait to get a new dog out and have feathers in their mouth. This isn’t about not just to kill 15 doves (the daily bird limit).
“For me, if my boys can get a few shots and my dog can get a few recoveries, we’ll create a few memories and maybe a few smiles and maybe a few dove meals… It’s social. It’s something you can share instead of being alone in a tree to hunt with a bow.”
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How many doves were captured in Oklahoma during the 2021 hunting season?
According to a 2021 survey by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, approximately 69,000 people reported dove hunting in Oklahoma in 2021 and captured more than 1.1 million birds.
Dove hunting season is open statewide throughout September and October. It closes in November and reopens from December 1 to 29, although the majority of the hunting takes place in early September, particularly on opening day.
The daily bag limit is 15, which can consist of any combination (aggregate) of Mourning Eurasian Collared Doves, White-winged, and Fully Dressed (those without a head or fully feathered wing naturally attached to the carcass) .
However, there is no bag limit for Eurasian Collared Doves provided the head or a fully feathered wing remains naturally attached to the carcass of all such birds during transport to their final destination. Shotguns should be hooked up to hold no more than three rounds while dove hunting.
Dove hunting is permitted in approximately 100 wildlife management areas in the state. On approximately 70 of the public hunting areas, the Wildlife Department manages agricultural fields to hopefully attract doves for an opening day dove shoot.
Each year, weather permitting, state wildlife officials mow, disc and burn crops in late August to put food for the doves on the ground. Fields of sunflowers and milo in wildlife management areas can become dove magnets on the opening day of dove season when conditions are right. Seeds must be available and relatively bare on the ground for doves to use the fields.
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Where is the best place to hunt doves in Oklahoma?
The most popular dove hunting in these public hunting areas is in the Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area in southwestern Oklahoma near Frederick.
Hunters can check the status of dove fields managed by the Department of Wildlife on its website at http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/hunting/resources/mgb/dove/fields.
Other public dove hunting sites can be found on walk-in properties through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Land Access Program.
It’s best to spot areas as close to opening day as possible, as bird movements can change daily, like the weather. Dove hunting tends to be best when the weather is dry and more food is available for the birds.
“Last weekend it was better before we had this little cold front than it is right now,” Grace said of the dove forecast. “With these weather events, we have less doves. Before that, like on the way to my work, we saw a lot of birds.
“We’re going to go out and scout this weekend and all of next week and we’re looking forward to Thursday’s opener. I think people will be surprised this year. With the drought it should be a really good hunt.”
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Dove Hunting Requirements in Oklahoma
Dove hunters must have a regular hunting license (or proof of exemption) and a Federal Harvest Information Program permit, except September 3 and 4 which are free hunting days in the state.
Oklahoma game wardens will not check licenses or permits during the state’s free hunting days, although it’s always a good idea to have a HIP permit just in case you encounter a law enforcement officer. federal public service on the ground.
HIP permits are required for all migratory bird hunters between the ages of 16 and 63, including lifetime permit holders, and are free at Wildlifedepartment.com or for $3 from authorized dealers. ‘State.
For many dove hunters like Grace, Thursday can’t come soon enough.
“It’s a good time to be outdoors and kick off hunting season,” Grace said. “I have two boys, they are 12 and 11, and they both love shooting shotguns.
“My wife loves to hunt and of course my dad. My brother is a Kay County Game Warden and we are all engrossed in hunting and fishing. The outdoor lifestyle is our way of life. Every time you can step out and watch God’s creation awaken, that’s pretty special.”
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