Dove Season Opens Sept. 1 in California

Dove season in California has two opening days, and the first one is coming up soon. Mourning dove, white-winged dove, spotted dove, and ringed turtle dove hunting seasons will run from Thursday, September 1 through Thursday, September 15, and Saturday, November 12 through Monday, December 26, respectively.

Many consider September 1 to be the unofficial beginning of California’s hunting seasons, making the dove opener a highly anticipated event.

There is a daily bag restriction of 15 for both mourning and white-winged doves, with a maximum of 10 white-winged doves allowed. The total bag limit is three times the daily maximum. Spotted dove and ringed turtle dove populations are unrestricted. The Eurasian collared-dove is legal to hunt all year with no restrictions on the number of birds you may take home with you. The CDFW (California Department of Fish and Wildlife) website features a dove identification guide (PDF)(opens in new tab).

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All hunters in California should be aware that nonlead ammunition is required for shooting at doves and other wildlife.

During the opening week of the dove season, hunters can take advantage of a wide variety of chances at CDFW wildlife areas all around the state. Upper Butte Basin, Gray Lodge, Yolo Bypass, North Grasslands, Los Banos, Imperial Valley, and Palo Verde Ecological Reserve are just few of the places you may go to see animals in California. Food crops have been grown in several of these places specifically to attract and sustain dove populations. You can find a map at some of the checkpoints or online. Hunters should phone beforehand to find out the entry procedures, as they can differ from place to place. Special permit holders have exclusive access to the Los Banos and North Grasslands wildlife areas until noon on September 1. The balance of the first season will then be open to the general public.

Upland Game Wild Bird Hunts and SHARE are two more public dove hunting possibilities offered by CDFW. The hunting of doves is widely regarded as an excellent introduction to the sport. Newly licensed hunters, having fulfilled their offseason hunter education requirements, can typically enjoy their first hunting season. Public land hunting requires little in the way of specialized gear and provides enough opportunity for socialization and fast-paced wing-shooting action.

Numerous dove hunters and their loved ones can’t wait to grill up some dove poppers, stuffed with bacon and jalapeos, or any of the other many tasty dove dishes.

Good footwear, a shotgun (nearly any gauge will do), nonlead shotgun shells, a cooler with ice to store your birds, and plenty of water for the normally hot weather are the bare minimums needed to go hunting in the United States. Dove hunting video guides can be found on the CDFW website under the Advanced Hunter Education(opens in new tab) program, and there are other resources and videos accessible under the R3 program.

The mourning dove thrives in arid regions and is highly adaptable in terms of its diet. The best places to hunt doves are along migration routes, near sources of water, food, or gravel. Doves are most active in the air as they travel to and from their roosting areas in the morning and evening, although the late morning and early afternoon can still present possibilities. Dove activity in the area should be scouted multiple times before going on a hunting trip.

If you’re a dove hunter, you might get lucky and see a banded dove. Since August 15th, CDFW employees and volunteers have banded over 1,100 doves around the state. Please help further dove study by informing the United States Geological Survey (www.reportband.gov(opens in new tab)) if you take a dove that has a band and provide the information about the band.