LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – In December, deer hunting continues in many parts of Arkansas, and duck hunting is approaching its peak.
Contrary to perception, dove hunting can be much more than that first
weekend of the season in early September. The second segment of the
season opens Dec. 26 and runs through Jan. 6.
This time of the year, Arkansas-hatched doves are joined by migrants
from the north, and they tend to bunch up. The one-, two- and three-dove
groups that were usual in September are now 10, 20, 30 in number.
Snow covering ground and food sources pushes northern doves to the
south, just as it does the ducks. The migrants tend to move in bunches.
Their food, like with the resident Arkansas doves, is primarily seeds of
many types, and leftovers from soybean and corn harvesting can be found
by the birds.
Fields of young winter wheat also draw doves. One Arkansas farmer
commented that wheat seeds that don't sprout may be on top of the ground
and good pickings for doves and other birds.
Food for these winter doves comes from natural sources, too. Brushy
areas have seeds, and they are abundant along large and small waterways –
creeks, rivers and lakes.
The migrant doves offer the same challenges to hunters that resident
birds do. They can be tricky, zigging and zagging just when shotgun
triggers are pulled.
The daily limit on doves is 15. A bit of caution for hunters who may
double up on duck and dove hunting in December: Be careful with your
lead loads in shotgun shells. Don't leave the lead loads in pockets when
you go back to duck hunting. It is against federal and state
regulations to have lead shot in your possession while waterfowl
hunting. But steel waterfowl loads are legal to hunt doves, although
steel dove load sizes are sometimes difficult to find. The bigger shot
reduces chances of hitting doves, along with the higher cost involved.