Increased dove population a teaching tool for youth dove hunt - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Increased dove population a teaching tool for youth dove hunt


Missouri Department of Conservation experts say there are more doves this season, and they're using it as a teaching tool for young hunters.

"There's doves here, there's doves down in the Bootheel," said Matt Bowyer, a Missouri Department of Conservation Wildlife Manager.

"Instead of tens of doves that we're counting, we're looking at flocks of a hundred or more," said Dee Dee Dockins, a Missouri Department of Conservation Outdoor Skills Specialist.

Dockins and Bowyer said the increased dove population is because of the summer's warm, dry weather.

"This dry weather like this is typically good for doves, they do better when the weather's dry and there's not a lot of storms, their nests are pretty spindly, and not very well built, so they get blown out during the storm, we haven't had as many of those," said Bowyer. "But the dry weather's very good for baby doves they survive better in the nest they're born pretty much without any feathers, the cold weather can be detrimental to them. It's a good year for doves, it's a great chance for doves, there's a lot doves out there right now."

"Young, juvenile doves don't have many feathers when they're born, so they're very delicate, and its hard for them to survive," said Dockins.

Bowyer said dove hunting is the most popular game bird hunting sport in America. A sport, the department wants to open to kids for free.

"This program hits on responsible and ethical behavior," said Dockins.

The Department will host a Youth Dove Hunt Saturday, September 1, 2012, the start of hunting season.

For 2012, the daily bag limit of doves is 15, with an overall possession limit of 30. It is illegal to take dove limits in multiple states.

"Safety is of utmost concern," said Dockins.

The department planted sunflowers in a field in Cape Girardeau County to attract doves.

Bowyer said the birds eat the seeds to get ready for Fall migration to the South.

"They need a high energy crop like sunflowers to feed on, these fields allow them plenty of readily available food source," said Bowyer.

The field is a prime location for the youth hunt.

"Basically you sit on a bucket or a chair kind of off to the side of the field," said Bowyer.

Each 11 to 15-year-old hunter is required to have an adult hunter sponsor, and a department guide.

"Typically in a good dove field there's plenty of dove flying around, a lot of chances for them to get a good shot and shoot doves," said Bowyer.

The young hunters will learn safety procedures, shooting techniques, and ethical harvesting.

"Just be careful, be aware of where everyone else is around you, and hopefully everyone has an enjoyable day," said Bowyer.

The department will host a mandatory clinic Friday August 31 from 5 p.m. to dark at the Apple Creek Conservation Area.

Participation is limited to 20 youth hunters, so pre-registration is required. Hunters and an adult sponsor must attend both sessions.

To sign up for the hunt, call the Missouri Department of Conservation Southeast Regional Office at 573-290-5730.

Missouri dove hunting regulations and information can be found in the 2012 Migratory Bird Hunting Digest, which is available anywhere hunting permits are sold, at Conservation Department offices and also online at

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