Dove hunting season in North Dakota

Published: Sep. 3, 2022 at 7:42 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - When it comes to deer or other animals that a lot of people want to hunt, the Game and Fish Department has to hold a lottery. The dove hunting season in North Dakota opened September 1, providing a great opportunity for hunters and their dogs to get ready for waterfowl and upland bird hunting.

“We have about 7,000 dove hunters in the state, according to our harvest estimates. Back in the early 80s or so, we had over 20,000. So our hunter numbers have really fallen down and there’s certainly, I think, some room to expand that,” said migratory game bird biologist Andy Dinges.

Mourning doves are migratory birds, which means hunters need to be HIP certified along with their hunting licenses.

“So all migratory birds we manage either at the flyway, or in the case of mourning doves, we manage those in management units so North Dakota is part of the central management unit. We’re responsible for writing management plans, monitoring populations and then setting seasons based on those management plans and population levels at the time,” said Dinges.

How exactly do biologists monitor dove populations in North Dakota?

“Our survey for mourning doves is our banding effort. So all states are involved in banding mourning doves. For North Dakota we have a quota of about 1,500 birds that we band every year to kind of get to those estimates that we’d like to see,” said Dinges.

Biologists also count doves during their late summer upland game brood surveys in North Dakota.

If you plan to hunt doves, the first couple of weeks in September offer the best opportunities for this migratory speedster.

“So they just happen to be early migrants. So a lot of times the best hunting is going to be in that first week, maybe that second week of the season,” said Dinges.

If you’re new to dove hunting, here are a few tips to consider.

“You pretty much need probably quite a few shells, especially if you’re beginning, they’re pretty tough to hit. I would say, if you want to be successful, definitely do some scouting. I would definitely say there’s going to be a lot of opportunities for kind of pass shooting doves between like feeding and roosting sites, that kind of thing,” said Dinges.