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Applications accepted for limited crane hunts between Aug. 3 and Sept. 1
PHOENIX — Hunters hibernating during the sizzling summer can now go online and get the 2009-10 Arizona Dove and Band-tailed Pigeon Regulations, as well as the 2009 Arizona Sandhill Crane Regulations, at www.azgfd.gov. Printed copies should be in Arizona Game and Fish Department offices and license dealers statewide by Aug 1.
For those interested in the limited permits available for a sandhill crane hunt, applications must be submitted to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, by mail only, starting Aug. 3 and no later than Sept. 1 – postmarks do not count.
This is the second year for a special juniors-only crane season, and the department anticipates hosting a youth hunt camp to mentor kids to hunting these amazing prehistoric-looking creatures. There are 25 juniors-only permits this year, available only by the application process.
Successful sandhill crane applicants will receive three hunt permit-tags this year, compared to two in years past. Applicants can choose from a general, archery-only, or, for those ages 17 and younger, the juniors-only hunt. Forms and mailing information needed to apply are available at department offices, license dealers and at www.azgfd.gov/draw.
It may be over 100 degrees, but it is not too early to start preparing for the early dove season.
“With good dove numbers carrying over from last season and above-average winter and spring precipitation this year, we should see another very good dove season in September,” said Mike Rabe, migratory game bird supervisor. “However, the recent drying trend and sputtering monsoons could have birds focused more around agricultural areas and dependable water sources.”
The dove opener wings in on a Tuesday this year, which should reduce some of the opening day demand. Nevertheless, look for that to push over to Saturday and Sunday going into the Labor Day weekend. Dove hunting is an Arizona tradition with more than 35,000 hunters participating each year.
There are a couple of things to consider this year. First, don’t wait until the last minute to get your shotgun shells. Demand for ammunition continues to outpace supply and you don’t want to find yourself with only a few boxes on opening day. Another reminder is, now is a good time to submit that vacation request if you plan on taking the day off for opening day.
The early dove season runs from Sept. 1-15 with half-day hunts in the south zone and full-day hunts in the north zone and statewide for youth hunters 17 and under. The late season offers all-day hunting statewide from Nov. 20, 2009 through Jan. 3, 2010.
“Those who go scouting a few days before their hunt will have the best success. Mourning doves are very mobile, strong flyers, and even if they were recently using a sorghum field, it doesn’t mean they will be there a week later,” said Rabe. “Of course a windy and rainy monsoon storm the week before the opener, like we had last year, could disperse birds throughout the desert range and have flight numbers dispersed and sporadic.”
Included within the dove regulations are the season dates and bag limits for band-tailed pigeons and Eurasian collared-doves. Band-tailed pigeon season starts Sept. 11 (north zone) or Sept. 18 (south zone) and runs through Oct. 4. The season for collared-doves is open now and runs yearlong. Hunters are reminded to keep one feathered wing attached to all harvested birds, including collared-doves, until they reach their final destination.
Where to go
If you are a novice hunter, or just new to the state, there are a number of organized hunts offering mentoring to help you get started. To get the latest details on dove events visit www.azgfd.gov/hunting. Here are a few to get you started:
- Sept. 1-3: Habitat fundraiser dove hunt (fee required), Texas Hill Farms, Roll (east of Yuma)
- Sept. 5-6: Juniors-only dove hunt, Robbins Butte Wildlife Area, near Buckeye (pancake and sausage breakfast provided by Chandler Rod and Gun Club)
- Sept. 5: Juniors-only dove hunt, Texas Hill Farms, Roll (east of Yuma)
- Sept. 12: New hunters only dove hunt, East Valley location to be determined
“Dove hunting is a deep-rooted family tradition, and these organized events are a great way to teach the next generation about hunting and firearms,” says Recruitment and Retention Coordinator Denise Raum. “When done properly, dove hunting is very safe, provides plenty of action, a good meal, and instills how to be a safe and ethical hunter.”
Furthermore, the department is teaming up with local sportsmen’s organizations with a grant program to host mentored hunting camps throughout the 2009-10 season to teach new hunters how to hunt dove, quail, rabbit, squirrel, and other game animals, to learn more visit www.azgfd.gov/hhwg.
While there is nothing like the excitement of the hunt, getting geared for dove season is half the fun. Here are some basic tips to get you going in the right direction.
- Arizona hunting license – required for ages 14 and up (two hunters maximum under 14 may hunt without a license, when accompanied by a licensed adult)
- Arizona migratory bird stamp – required for ages 16 and older
- Shotgun shells – No. 7 ½ or No. 8 upland bird shot, low brass (national average is 5-7 shots for each bird harvested, Arizona’s limit is 10 birds)
- Hunter education – although it’s not mandatory, if you’re new to hunting, reading the chapters on “Safe Hunting,” “Hunting Skills,” and “Be a Safe Hunter” from the department’s online program will cover a range of topics critically important for all dove hunters, including T.A.B. +1, hunting with others, safe zone-of-fire, shotgun firing, hunter ethics, and more.
- Practice shooting – take a trip to your local clay target range and work out some of the kinks in your swing and target leading to improve your success in the field.
- Start scouting – first eliminate those areas that are now within city limits due to growth; try city and municipality Web sites to identify their boundaries. Once you have rule areas, use Google Earth to locate water tanks and natural corridors that dove may move along.
Did you know, mourning doves are the most numerous, widespread game bird in North America? They are prolific breeders with an average life span of 1-2 years. Controlled hunting seasons maintain them as a sustainable wildlife resource. Dove hunters are a valuable conservation tool. There is an excise tax on ammunition that is contributed to the Pitman-Robertson Fund, which in turn is returned to state wildlife agencies for the management of wildlife, which benefits all citizens. Additionally, hunters provide hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy, by purchasing ammunition, gas, food and lodging while engaging in this American tradition. To learn more about dove in Arizona, visitwww.azgfd.gov/h_f/game_mourning_dove.shtml.