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Iowa’s sunflower and wheat fields will be popular places on Sept. 1, when thousands of hunters slip into the standing flowers and field edges in the early morning darkness for the opening day of dove hunting season.
Fast paced and fun, dove hunting can be done by nearly everyone regardless of skill level or mobility. It doesn’t require expensive equipment to participate, only clothes that blend in to the background, a bucket and plenty of shells. There’s a lot of action with a steady stream of doves coming in.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) includes a list of wildlife areas at www.iowadnr.gov/doves where dove plots were planted. Hunters are strongly encouraged to scout their areas before the season opens especially in southwest and western Iowa where May rains likely impacted many dove fields and plantings may have failed.
Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist with the Iowa DNR, said hunters looking for Plan B may want to focus on private land where farmers impacted by the flooding did a preventive planting. They could also look for silage or hay fields, harvested small grain fields, grazed pastures or feedlots.
“It really comes down to scouting, getting out there and looking at the area. If you’re on a public area look to see if the dove fields got in, if it matured and got mowed. Then scout it a day or two ahead of the season to see if and how the doves are using it,” he said.
He said there will likely be more hunters out and about because the season opens on a weekend.
“Hunters should maintain good spacing and stay in their shooting lanes and most importantly practice common courtesy,” Bogenschutz said.
All dove hunters are required to register with the Harvest Information Program (HIP). It’s free, fast and the information is used to help determine participation and harvest. Register by following the instructions at www.iowadnr.gov/doves or by calling 1-855-242-3683.
Dove season is Sept. 1-Nov. 29. Shooting hours are one half hour before sunrise to sunset. Daily bag limit is 15 (mourning or Eurasian collared) with a possession limit of 30. Hunters are reminded that their gun must be plugged to hold no more than three shells. If hunting public areas north of I-80, hunters should check to see if nontoxic shot is required.