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Tuesday is opening day for dove season

by Ed Godfrey Published: August 30, 2009
Doves are often here today and gone tomorrow.

I don’t care if they are gone tomorrow, as long as they are here Tuesday.

That’s the opening day of dove season in Oklahoma, considered the beginning of the fall hunting season.

Dove shoots are a great way to introduce children and grandchildren to hunting. Many Oklahomans traditionally cap off an opening day hunt by feasting on dove with friends and families.

I am salivating now over grilled dove breasts wrapped in bacon and jalapenos.

Hopefully, there will be enough birds to shoot Tuesday for my supper, but that will depend on the weather, which has been unseasonably wet and cool for August, scattering the birds more than usual.

Also dampening the opening day outlook is this year’s wheat crop, a major food source for the birds.

Wheat fields in portions of the state suffered a winter drought and late freeze in the spring. Much of the available wheat was cut for hay.

Some fields that were harvested were less productive and other fields were sown with other crops.

Oklahoma’s public hunting areas that are managed for doves also rely on wheat. Wheat is planted, allowed to mature and then brush-hogged to attract doves.

But the wheat didn’t make and native sunflowers were not as productive this year as well, said Rod Smith, southwest wildlife region chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

This is the situation at Hackberry Flat near Frederick, which attracts 300 to 400 hunters each year for the premier opening day dove shoot in Oklahoma.

by Ed Godfrey
Copy Editor, Outdoors Editor, Rodeo, River Sports Reporter
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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Be aware of regulation changes
Three things are different in the dove hunting regulations this year.

First of all, Oklahoma dove hunters will get more days in the field.

Dove season opens on Sept. 1 as usual, but this year, instead of closing Oct. 31, the season has been extended through Nov. 9 for most of the state.

In the southwest dove zone, the season also opens Sept. 1 but still ends Oct. 31. It re-opens in the southwest zone on Dec. 26 and continues through Jan. 3.

→Bag limit: Two changes have been made in the daily bag limit. The daily limit for doves is now 15 for the entire state, and there is no bag limit on Eurasian collared doves.

The bag limit in the southwest dove zone had been 12, but state wildlife officials decided to simplify the regulations and make the limit for 15 everywhere.

A new regulation eliminates the bag limit on Eurasian collared doves, provided that the head or one fully feathered wing remains naturally attached to the doves.

If Eurasian-collared doves are cleaned in the field, they will count towards the total bag limit of 15 doves along with mourning doves and white-winged doves.

Eurasian-collared doves, which are not native to Oklahoma, are bigger and lighter in color.

→Licenses: Dove hunters must carry a state hunting license, a HIP permit and Legacy permit. However, if you bought a hunting or fishing license after July 1, a Legacy permit was included in the price.

The $5 Legacy permit – which is earmarked for land acquisition - is now included in the price of hunting and fishing licenses.

That means if you buy your hunting and fishing license separately – instead of as a combination license – you will be buying two Legacy permits.

Legacy permits are still being sold separately to sportsmen who may have bought a license before July 1 but didn’t buy a Legacy permit at that time.

HIP (Harvest Information Program) permits can be obtained online for free from or for $3 from license vendors.

By Ed Godfrey


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