By Peter Ottesen
The most anticipated upland game bird hunting season in California opens Sunday when the first half of the mourning dove shoot gets underway and runs through Sept. 15. Approximately 87,000 shotgun enthusiasts are expected to go afield.
"There is greater participation among hunters who seek doves than for any other upland species," said Scott Gardner, upland game bird coordinator for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. "It's the first shotgun hunting season of the autumn and people experience a high success rate. They usually harvest some."
The daily bag is 10 doves per day. The possession limit is triple the daily bag after the first two days of the season. The second half of the season runs Nov. 9 through Dec. 23.
San Joaquin County residents, especially those near the outskirts of towns or in rural areas, should expect plenty of gunfire when the season opens at 6:05 a.m. Sunday, a half-hour before sunrise.
"The dove hunting tradition is extremely strong," Gardner said. "People plan trips around the season, perhaps to the desert or Sierra foothills. Many enjoy an after-hunt barbecue with neighbors and family. Since a typical dove shoot can accommodate quite a number of hunters, camaraderie is a big part of it."
State and federal scientists cooperatively band and annually assess the dove harvest and its effect on the overall populations.
"Doves are among our closest monitored birds," Gardner said. "There are plenty of them."