OK Wingshooters Face ‘Average' Dove Season

‘You might not go through two boxes of shells as fast as you usually do.'

OK Wingshooters Face ‘Average' Dove Season

As the 2019 dove hunting season gets opens in Oklahoma, Sooner State wingshooters appear to be facing an average season after spring nesting was disrupted by persistent heavy rainfall and severe weather. (Lynn Burkhead photo)

When the Sept. 1 dove season opener rolls around each year in the bird-rich state of Oklahoma, expectations are normally pretty high.

And for good reason, too, since there are usually plenty of native mourning doves either side of Interstate 35. Add in a few white-winged doves pushing across the Red River every year from the south and some invasive Eurasian collared doves, and there usually is no shortage of little gray ghosts rocketing about on a southerly breeze.

That being said, some dove seasons are better than others in the Sooner State. And this year, the dove season outlook from Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation migratory game bird biologist Josh Richardson appears to be leaning toward the leaner side of the equation.

“For doves, I'd say to expect a fair to average season," said Richardson as hunters get ready for a Sept. 1-Oct. 31 first split and a Dec. 1-29 second split.


“We definitely have had some struggles during the summer as far as bird production goes, thanks to all of the stormy and rainy weather we had earlier in the year. There are still birds around, but not as many as you might normally expect here in late August.”


After unprecedented storms and rainfall sent Oklahoma lakes, rivers, and stock ponds over their banks in the late spring and summer months, boating and fishing weren’t the only outdoor activities impacted by the inclement conditions.

In fact, all that wet, stormy weather also conspired to keep Sooner State doves from successfully nesting in the numbers that Richardson expects to see most years.

But the biologist also notes that all hope isn't lost for this season.

”Dove production for local birds was certainly hampered, but then again, it was not an outright failure either," said Richardson. "And since doves nest multiple times throughout the spring and summer from late April, through May, and on into the months of June, July, and even early August, I'm hopeful that their re-nesting efforts will pay off this fall.”


All that biologist-speak leads Richardson to forecast an average dove hunting season across the Sooner State this year — a C on the pre-season report card — partly due to the lesser production referenced here and partly due to habitat that was left dead and brown by the heavy rainfall and flooding that occurred earlier in the year.

Which simply means that dove hunters north of the Red River will have to work a little harder than normal for an early season limit, especially during the first week or two of September.

“Yeah, you might not go through two boxes of shells as fast as you usually do, but still, with a little scouting effort, you should still not have too much trouble coming up with a limit of birds either," said Richardson. "That's especially true if you do your homework, are in a good spot, and take your time and pick your shots.”


What tips does Richardson have to give Sooner State dove hunters on the cusp of the 2019 campaign?

“For most of the state, I'd say that waterhole hunting is not a great option this year," he said. "Out in western Oklahoma, that hunting technique is still a workable concept since it hasn't been as wet recently.

“But for the rest of the state, try to find where birds are grouping up and feeding. That's probably not in the typical fields you've hunted in past years. Many of those fields are unavailable this year for various farming and management techniques.”

Richardson says that in many cases, the food that will be available to doves this fall will be native stands of seed-bearing vegetation and waste grain in some late planted fields.

But the lack of good habitat and scarcity of food for doves also carries a silver lining for hunters.

”In other more normal years, when you have a lot of waste grain and native food available to doves out in fields, the birds will shift around quickly and move to another source as hunting pressure increases," he said. "But this year, if you find a good feeding field in your scouting efforts, the odds are you're probably going to see more dove utilizing it over the course of the season since food resources are more limited this year.”

Richardson is also hopeful that for those wingshooters willing to get out later in the season, more doves will be arriving with each passing cool front.

"Migrant doves in late September or October, it's fairly typical for some good hunting to occur for those migrating birds coming down from the north, and even on into our December season," said Richardson. "Some of our local birds will move on, of course, but they will be replaced by birds from the north.

"Of course, there's a human side to all of this since even though we have 90 days of dove hunting on the calendar, most people do the bulk of their dove hunting the first seven to 10-days of the season each year. After that, participation really drops off.”

But for those willing to keep going afield, the late season this year could produce some superb hunting in parts of Oklahoma.

"Yeah, for the guys that stick it out, especially as we get more cool fronts and some of this year's later planted fields get cut, there can be a chance for some good hunting," said Richardson.

”For those who will stay persistent and use the season dates that are available, they should still get some pretty good shoots through September and on into October.”

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Lure Lock Tackle Cases: No-Spill, No-Scent

Lure Lock Tackle Cases: No-Spill, No-Scent

Glenn Walker talks us through the soy-based technology that makes Lure Lock cases spill-proof and scent-proof. With Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

With the company's heavy involvement in initiatives like Kick the Plastic and Captains for Clean Water campaigns, Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead all about the sunglass maker's unwavering commitment to help the freshwater and saltwater environment.

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

Major League Fishing pros talk about the first lure they choose when targeting spawning bass.

Simms

Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor Hoody

John Frazier of Simms Fishing Products helps OSG's Lynn Burkhead understand the new features of the new Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor sun protection hoody.

Trending Articles

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures? Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the biggest pike come from Europe. Records

Top 10 Biggest Pike World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - August 19, 2015

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the...

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish. Records

Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

See More Trending Articles

More Upland

Double-duty dogs: Bouncing your dog between waterfowl and upland hunting can be great; just know the impact on your buddy. Waterfowl

Pros and Cons of Using Duck Dogs to Hunt Upland Birds

Tom Dokken - November 15, 2018

Double-duty dogs: Bouncing your dog between waterfowl and upland hunting can be great; just...

Be sneaky, hunt into the wind and know a rooster's routine. Upland

Patterning Mr. Ringneck: The Essence of Pheasant Hunting

M.D. Johnson - September 05, 2019

Be sneaky, hunt into the wind and know a rooster's routine.

Lone pheasant hunters can find success if they get creative. Upland

Solo Strategies for Pheasants

M.D. Johnson - November 06, 2019

Lone pheasant hunters can find success if they get creative.

When there are just two of you, how do you put on a pheasant drive? These tips should help solve that question. Hunting How-To

How To: Buddy System Pheasant Hunts

Stephen D. Carpenteri - November 16, 2018

When there are just two of you, how do you put on a pheasant drive? These tips should help...

See More Upland

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.