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Iowa's dove season opens on Sept. 1, a week from today. Doves provide a lot of excitement for hunters of all skill levels and are a great way to bring in new or young hunters. "It’s easy to do and there are no special decoys or camouflage necessary,” said Todd Bogenshutz, DNR research biologist.
“Anecdotally, we are seeing doves here in good numbers, and I expect hunters will have similar success as last year, said Bogenshutz. In 2016, 13,800 hunters harvested an estimated 131,000 doves.
Hunters are encouraged to check out their hunting areas prior to opening day. “Investing some time in preseason scouting will benefit the hunter by seeing which fields the doves are using, and what condition the field is in,” Todd Bogenschutz. “Just because the area had a food plot on it last year, doesn’t necessarily mean it will again this year.”
Where to Go
Look for grazed pastures with a pond, feedlots, or harvested crop fields, seed corn or small grain fields, basically any area with abundant bare ground.The Iowa DNR has a listing of state-managed public wildlife areas with food plots for doves at www.iowadnr.gov/doves. Each area is linked to downloadable factsheets that include a map, any special regulations, and the local DNR contact name and phone number.
When to Hunt
While most hunting takes place in early morning, it’s not the only time when doves fly. “There are good opportunities to hunt in the evening; be sure to be out there a few hours before sunset because the flight is usually over at sundown,” Bogenschutz said.
Be a Good Steward
Hunters are encouraged to clean up their shells and debris. Please help take care of wildlife management areas by carrying out your trash.
HIP Registration -- register with the Harvest Information Program prior to hunting.
DNR Hunting Atlas -- interactive maps of all public hunting areas in Iowa
Managed Dove Plots (PDF) -- downloadable guide
2017-2018 Hunting Regulations (PDF)
2017-2018 Hunting Season Dates
Season Dates: Sept 1 - Nov 29
Shooting Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset
Shot: Lead shot may be used except in designated nontoxic shot locations.
Bag Limit: Daily limit of 15, possession limit of 45.
License/Fees: Small game license and habitat fee. Hunters also need to register with HIP. Migratory game bird fee not required.