Oklahoma Free dove hunting Sept. 7-8, 2002


Mar 11, 2001
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Free dove hunting Sept. 7-8

Aug 1.2002


No bitter cold temperatures, no extravagant equipment necessary, no long road trips required - dove hunting is about as simple as it comes. It is hard to think of a better time to introduce someone to the upcoming fall hunting seasons and residents of Oklahoma do not even need a license to hunt Sept. 7 and 8.

"The annual free hunting days are a perfect chance to introduce friends or family members to hunting," said Nels Rodefeld, information and education assistant chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Dove are plentiful from border to border and offer sportsmen lots of action during early to mid-September. Squirrel hunting also is a great starter outing and early September can be both pleasant and productive."

According to Rodefeld, dove hunting will be the biggest draw during Free Hunting days, though. The birds are acrobatic flyers and put just about everyone on a level playing field when it comes to wing shooting whether they are brand new to the sport or veterans of many Septembers.

When it comes to dove hunting there are really only two major considerations: equipping yourself with the right shotgun and shells and finding a place to hunt.

When selecting a shotgun for dove hunting, you can go as plain or as fancy as your budget allows. You can purchase a brand new, 12- or 20-gauge slide-action (pump) shotgun for less than $200, or you can find used guns for considerably less. For those who want to try the sport for the first time, Rodefeld recommends borrowing a gun from a friend.

When hunting migratory birds like dove, shotgun magazines must be plugged so that they can not hold more than three shells (one in the chamber, two in the magazine). Most new shotguns are already plugged, but older guns might not be. In either case, check before you go afield.

Selecting a good dove load is simple, too. If you use a 20-gauge shotgun, you can get by with 7/8-ounce loads, but one-ounce loads deliver a heavier payload and more energy. A good 12-gauge dove load should have at least 1 1/8 ounces of number seven or eight shot. The payload, powder load and shell size are always clearly marked on the box.

If you need a place to hunt, now is the time to start scouting for areas and visiting with landowners for permission to hunt. The sooner you start the better because if you wait until the last minute, you may find it more difficult to get permission.

Many of the wildlife management areas owned by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation also offer good dove hunting opportunities. To help you find the best areas near you, information about the Department's wildlife management areas can be found at wildlifedepartment.com complete with descriptions of their habitat and what types of hunting are available at each.

Pay close attention to regulations for public areas. Some, like Hackberry Flat WMA, allow only the use of federally-approved non-toxic shot for dove hunting. You can find out by picking up a copy of the "2002-2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide & Regulations," available at sporting goods retailers and license vendors statewide.

Dove hunters also should be sure to pick up a new Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program Permit before the season begins. The free HIP permits are required of all migratory bird hunters in the United States. Data collected from the surveys helps federal migratory bird biologists better gauge bird harvests and hunter numbers, which will translate to improved migratory bird management.

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