Utah Mourning dove and band-tailed pigeon seasons begin Sept


Mar 11, 2001
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August 12, 2002

Utah DWR

Mourning dove and band-tailed pigeon seasons begin Sept. 2

Salt Lake City — If the hot, dry weather continues, hunters should be in for a good opening when Utah's 2002 mourning dove season begins Monday, Sept. 2.

Mourning dove numbers are up considerably this year and as of Aug. 8, there were still good numbers of doves in the state.

Utah's 2002 band-tailed pigeon season also begins Sept. 2.

Mourning dove

Data collected by Division of Wildlife Resources biologists from 15 dove "call count" route surveys conducted this past May indicated that mourning dove breeding populations in Utah were up strikingly from 2001. The number of doves heard along routes was up 18 percent from 2001, and the number of doves observed along routes was up 352 percent.

Despite the decent number of birds that are currently in Utah, many could head south before the season opener because of a lack of food resources. Countless grain (wheat and barley) fields did poorly this year or were not planted at all because of the scarcity of irrigation water.

Mid- and end of August cloudbursts annually push doves on their southward migration. However, regardless of what the weather is doing, some mourning doves begin to leave Utah during the first couple of weeks of August. These birds begin their annual southward migration based on the photoperiod, or length of the day. As daylight diminishes in the fall, doves are stimulated to move to their wintering areas in Mexico and Central America.

The DWR is prohibited by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (1918) from opening the dove season earlier than Sept. 1 each year. The DWR is also prohibited from opening a hunting season on a Sunday. Because Sept. 1 falls on a Sunday this year, the season will open on Monday, Sept. 2.

Dove hunters who normally hunt in northern Utah, but get frustrated when there aren't many birds around, should give Utah's southern counties a try. Millard, Beaver, Iron and Washington counties in southwestern Utah, and Emery and San Juan counties in the southeast, commonly retain birds until later in the year. Some of Utah's most prosperous dove hunting occurs in the southern parts of the state.

The 2002 mourning dove season will remain open through Sept. 30. Bag and possession limits are 10 and 20 respectively. Mourning dove and band-tailed pigeon hunters are reminded that they must register in the federal Migratory Game Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) before going afield for these two migratory species. Registration requirements and the process for obtaining a HIP number are described beginning on page 7 of the 2002-2003 Utah Upland Game Proclamation. HIP numbers may also be obtained through the Internet at http://www.uthip.com

NOTE: Utah migratory game bird hunters should note that the HIP registration telephone number listed on 2002 hunting licenses is incorrect and will not work. The DWR had to contract with a new vendor to collect hunter HIP data after the 2002 hunting licenses were printed. The HIP registration telephone information listed in the 2002-2003 Upland Game Proclamation is correct.

To be most effective during the season, hunters should keep in mind the daily activity routine of doves. The birds normally feed early in the morning and again late in the day. Doves are almost exclusively seed eaters and prefer areas with wheat/stubble, corn, oats and all kinds of weedy patches. Sunflowers often harbor many doves and provide birds with an excellent source of food and cover.

After feeding, doves pick up grit along roadways and then fly to water. The middle part of the day is spent loafing and roosting in trees. They especially like roosting in dead trees.

Although not required by law, it's a good idea to wear hunter orange during the first week of the mourning dove hunt. Ball caps and vests in hunter orange help tremendously in reducing the chances of a firearms accident while afield with many other hunters.

Respecting private property goes a long way in maintaining future access privileges for hunters. Small things like picking up and packing out spent shotgun hulls and other trash when exiting the shooting field, closing gates and avoiding livestock areas is common etiquette that demonstrates to landowners that hunters are responsible. Please do your part!

Band-tailed pigeon

Hunters should plan to spend time in the coniferous forests of southern Utah for the native band-tailed pigeon. Bandtails are most common in woodlands, from the Pine Valley Mountains in the west to the La Sal and Blue Mountains in the east.

In 2002, bag and possession limits for bandtails are 5 and 10 respectively. The season closes on Sept. 30, the same day the mourning dove season closes.

Band-tailed pigeons are the only pigeons in Utah with yellow legs and feet. Feral pigeons have red legs and feet. Hunters are encouraged to conduct pre-season scouting for bandtails. Locate areas that birds are feeding in and note their movements from feeding areas to mid-day roosting areas. Pigeons prefer foods such as pine buds, acorns, berries, seeds and some pine needles. Flight paths can be intercepted.

In addition to their HIP registration, pigeon hunters are required to obtain a free permit prior to hunting bandtails. Hunters may drop by any DWR office and pick up a free permit; telephone any DWR office and provide information so the permit can be mailed to them; or complete a permit request form. Forms are available on page 27 of the 2002-2003 Utah Upland Game Proclamation or on the DWR's Upland Game Web page at http://www.wildlife.utah.gov/uplandgame/. After completing the form, hunters can mail it to any DWR office to obtain their band-tailed pigeon permit.

Pigeon hunters who take birds are encouraged to clip and save a wing from each bird. Wings can be placed in a zip-lock bag and stored in a freezer. Bandtail hunters will be contacted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and provided with envelopes to mail the wings in. Wings from pigeons help biologists determine sex and age structures, as well as reproductive success in the Four-corners population of band-tailed pigeons.

Upland game hunters are encouraged to keep track of their harvest and days afield using the Upland Game Hunter's Harvest Record on page 24 of the 2002-2003 Upland Game Proclamation. A random sample of hunters will be surveyed at the end of the upland game seasons to determine statewide harvest levels for each upland game species. Accurate harvest information is imperative to the survey. The harvest record provides a convenient way to track and report this information.

Irish Lad

Well-known member
Sep 15, 2001
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I just got back from Utah. Very dry, they are having a severe drought. Very few doves around the Cedar City area. Almost 0 sunflower fields. I talked to the local warden and said he hadn't see many doves either.

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