CDFW News | CDFW prepares to welcome dove hunters to wildlife areas on September 1

CDFW prepares to welcome dove hunters to wildlife areas on September 1

California dove season opens Wednesday, September 1, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has prepared crop fields in many of its most popular wildlife areas in the state to attract doves and provide productive public dove hunting opportunities.

“It looks like it’s going to be a good start in the San Joaquin Valley,” said Ben Lewis, Upland Game Coordinator for CDFW’s Central Region, which includes the Los Banos Wildlife Area, Mendota Wildlife Area, the North Grasslands Wildlife Area and other popular dove hunting hot spots. “We have seen very high numbers from our dove banding efforts. Time is holding up right now. We had no cold snap that would have caused the birds to come out. The birds that are here should stay here for the opening.

All of the CDFW’s most popular wildlife areas for dove hunting will be open to the public during the first half of the dove season, which runs from September 1 to 15, 2021. The season will be closed from September 16 to 12 November. then reopen from November 13 to December 27. Food plots planted for the dove usually consist of wheat, safflower, or sunflower. Food and habitat benefit a variety of bird and wildlife species throughout the year, beyond the dove. Drought conditions may have impacted agricultural production in fields that were not irrigated. Preseason scouting is strongly encouraged where permitted.

CDFW areas planted with crops and open to public dove hunting on September 1 include the Upper Butte Basin, Gray Lodge, Oroville, Yolo Bypass, Spenceville, North Grasslands, Mendota, Los Banos and Imperial Valley Wildlife Areas, as well as the Palo Verde Ecological Reserve. Several CDFW wildlife areas have dove hunting maps available at their individual web pages. Printed maps are available at some checkpoints.

Entry procedures vary from region to region, so hunters are advised to call ahead to prepare for their hunt.

Parts of the Los Banos and North Grasslands Wildlife Areas in Merced County, including the Salt Slough and China Island units, are reserved for special permit holders until noon on September 1, after which they are open to the public. to chase the rest of the first season of the dove. .

The Imperial Valley of Southern California offers one of the best dove hunts in the country. The Imperial County offers additional public hunting opportunities on various fields planted with agricultural crops to attract doves. A map of the Imperial County Highlands Hunting Fields (PDF) is available on the CDFW website.

CDFW also offers a number of special dove hunts throughout the first and second dove seasons on public and private land through a lottery on its Online Licensing Sales and Services Website. Descriptions of these hunts are available at CDFW Highland Game Bird Hunts and SHARE program pages.

Due to the safeguards and limitations imposed by COVID-19, the CDFW is asking all hunters to respect physical distance from other hunters and to comply with all site specific rules and regulations.

In ongoing monitoring efforts, preliminary results show a strong statewide dove banding effort in 2021. More than 2,500 doves have been banded compared to the 1,861 birds banded in 2020. Hunters who encounter a ringed bird are asked to report it to the US Geological Survey Bird Banding Lab ( Banded birds are part of important biological surveillance and the reporting of bands completes the process. After reporting, hunters will receive a certificate of appreciation identifying the general capture location, the estimated age of the bird, and other information.

Mourning doves are among the most numerous of all highland game birds. California hunters have harvested nearly 700,000 mourning doves during the 2020-21 hunting season. The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the total population of mourning doves in seven western states, including California, at over 33 million birds.

The Dove Opening on September 1 marks the traditional start of the California hunting season and typically brings together several generations of family and friends to participate in one of California’s most anticipated hunting seasons of the year.

The dove opener is often the first hunting season for new hunters who have recently completed their hunting training. Doves are concentrated in and around agricultural areas and can provide quick and uplifting action. Minimal equipment is required beyond a valid California hunting license, game bird validation (for hunters 18 and over), shotgun of almost any caliber, ammunition lead free, sun protection, and plenty of water to stay hydrated in generally hot weather. Doves, delicious on the table, are the favorite wild game species of many hunters.

California is home to several species of doves. The Mourning Dove and the White-winged Dove have a daily bag limit of 15, of which up to 10 can be White-winged Doves. The possession limit is three times the daily bag limit. There are no limits for the Mottled Dove and the Ringed Dove. Eurasian mallard hunting is legal year round with no limit. A Dove Identification Guide (PDF) is available on the CDFW website.

Shooting times for the dove begin half an hour before sunrise and end at sunset.


Media contacts:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 215-3858
Megan Crane, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 373-8827

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