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Thursday, Mar. 26, 2015

MDC program helps dove acreage quadruple

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Missouri has plenty of mourning doves, and Missouri

hunters will find thousands of acres of specially

managed fields where they can hunt them.

Dove hunting season opens Sept. 1 and runs through

Nov. 9. John Schulz, a resource scientist for the

Missouri Department of Conservation, says hunters will

find plenty of doves when opening day arrives.

"The number of doves counted in our roadside survey

this year was up in five out of eight regions," Schulz

said. "The dry weather we are having probably is

helping doves."

Schulz said mourning doves make flimsy nests that

provide little protection from the elements, so rainy

weather cuts into chicks' survival. Dry weather reduces

such losses.

Furthermore, doves are ground feeders and are not as

agile on their feet as quail or songbirds. Consequently,

they have trouble reaching seeds and insect foods

when vegetation is thick. Droughty weather decreases

undergrowth, giving doves easier access to food.

Schulz said hunter success on opening day will

depend heavily on Midwestern weather conditions just

before Sept. 1 and on local availability of food that

draws doves into huntable concentrations.

The Conservation Department has made a big push to

turn the food factor in hunters' favor. This year it has

dramatically increased the number and acreage of crop

fields planted with doves' favorite foods -- mainly

sunflowers and wheat. Doves appreciate the food plots,

and hunters appreciate having places where doves are

easy to find.

The Conservation Department doubled the number of

fields planted for doves, and it quadrupled the acreage

in such fields. In all, the Conservation Department has

more than 100 dove hunting fields in 50-plus counties.

The total acreage is approximately 5,000 acres, four

times the dove hunting ground available on

conservation areas last year.

"The mourning dove is Missouri's most popular game

bird," said Wildlife Division Administrator Dave

Erickson. "That's partly because it's a very democratic

sort of hunting. It doesn't take lots of experience or

fancy equipment. Just about anyone can enjoy it if they

have a place to go, and we are doing our best to make

sure everyone has a dove hunting spot within

reasonable driving distance of their home."

Maps showing the locations of dove fields are available

through Conservation Department regional offices

statewide. A list of conservation areas with dove fields

and maps of the areas is available at

http://www.conservation.state.mo.us/hunt...

e/.

The latest mourning dove status report also is available

at http://www.conservation.state.mo.us/hunt....

Areas where dove population indices were up

compared to last year include the Mississippi

Lowlands (+31.5 percent), Ozark Plateau (+26.2

percent) Western Prairie (+19.7 percent), Northwestern

Prairie (+12.7 percent), and Western Ozark Border (+2.6

percent). Areas where indices dipped this year were the

northern and Eastern Ozark Border (-16.6 percent),

Northern Riverbreaks (-14.3 percent) and Northeastern

Riverbreaks (-6.3 percent).

Although dove numbers were down from last year in the

Northern and Northeastern riverbreaks, these areas

remain 10.4 and 6.9 percent above their 10-year

averages, respectively. Statewide dove numbers were

3.9 percent higher than last year and 5.5 percent

greater than the 10-year average.

Dove hunters ages 16 through 64 must buy a Small

Game Hunting Permit and a Missouri Migratory Bird

Hunting Permit to pursue doves. Shooting hours are

one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Although mourning doves are the primary object of dove

hunters' attention, Missouri also has one exotic dove

species and another native species that is seen

occasionally. Eurasian collared-doves and

white-winged doves are legal game in Missouri, but

they must be included in the aggregate daily limit of 12

and the possession limit of 24 doves.

Full details on dove season regulations are available in

the 2003 Migratory Bird Hunting Digest. The booklet is

available free of charge at Conservation Department

offices and wherever permits are sold.



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