Dove season is one of the first wingshooting activities many hunters can participate in every season. It is also a great opportunity for first time hunters to learn the ropes of hunter safety while simultaneously enjoying some fast action. But, as is the case with many game animals, there’s a healthy debate about where the best dove hunting can be experienced. Some Midwestern states with large agricultural industries (and therefore farmland) can produce great dove hunting. Still, many hunters claim the southern states are the only ones that should even be considered. In the spirit of a little friendly competition, and as a way to direct your planning should you intend on a traveling dove hunt experience, we’ve got a rundown of the 10 best states for dove hunting, as far as we’re concerned.
Texas is on the list for good reason. Opening day for dove season is like a holiday for many Texans. Many would say the Lone Star state has the best dove hunt opportunities in the entire United States. Through most of the state, hunters have two generously long seasons to pursue these game birds. The first season starts in September and runs through mid-November. The second season starts in mid-December and runs through the early part of January. Texas offers the chance to take white wings, mourning doves, white-tipped, and Eurasian collared doves. As a nice bonus, dove hunters in Texas will also often encounter pigeons while dove hunting and these animals have no restrictions or bag limits. Texas also offers a decent amount of public land opportunities for hunters looking for a DIY Texas hunting experience, but an inexpensive guided dove hunt might be the best way to ensure you see a lot of opportunities. Just make sure you bring enough shells.
The Sooner State is a great place for bird hunters to set out some decoys for some fast action on both resident and migratory birds. Oklahoma has a daily bag limit of 15 birds and three different varieties of dove to pursue. In addition to mourning doves, the state is also home to white wings and Eurasian collared doves. You’ll find dozens of public hunting areas open to dove hunters. There are also plenty of outfitters who will help put you on the birds on private land for as little as $100 a day, making it a very affordable hunt.
3. South Dakota
This state is a sportsmen and women’s paradise, especially if you like bird hunting. South Dakota’s mourning dove season runs Sept. 1 to Nov. 9, and the state’s Game, Fish and Parks department says that many of the doves here commonly make their way as far south as Central America. However, the abundant food sources make South Dakota an excellent stopover spot. Since some of the state’s season dates overlap several other upland bird seasons (including pheasant, bobwhite quail, and ruffed grouse), South Dakota is an excellent option for any hunters looking for the ultimate bird hunting trip.
The Silver State flies under the radar a bit as a mourning dove hunting destination, but it is an excellent place to fill a cooler with mourning, white wings and Eurasian collared doves in a hurry. Nevada’s dove season runs Sept. 1-Oct. 30 and hunters are allowed a bag limit of 15 and possession limit of 45. The great thing about Nevada is the bevy of public hunting areas available to non-resident hunters for an early season DIY adventure. Bring some friends and take in the beautiful vistas of the American West in the morning and enjoy a great dove meal at lunch. A word of advice for those hunting in Nevada: find the water, and you’ll eventually find some doves.
While Kansas may be better known for big whitetail deer, the Sunflower State is the place to go if you like constant wingshooting action. Pack extra shells, because it’s not uncommon for hunters to see hundreds of birds in a single day’s hunt here. The season here is lengthy, running Sept. 1-Nov. 29, and bag limits are generous for mourning and white wings. Kansas has no limits on ringed turtle doves or Eurasian collared doves. Many hunters find themselves simply overwhelmed by the amount of birds they see during a typical hunt in Kansas. It’s why hunters return year after year for dove hunting adventures, and why Kansas is expanding its sportsmen appeal beyond big bucks.
Dove hunting is huge in Alabama. Many of the state’s public wildlife management areas have specially-planted dove fields that are managed every year to draw in mourning doves for hunters. Another nice thing about Alabama’s dove seasons is that they break it up into different segments starting in September at the earliest and running all the way to Jan. 10 at the latest. That means there are plenty of opportunities to fit a big dove trip into any hunter’s schedule. Expect to find mourning and white wings in abundance in Alabama.
Missouri is yet another state that is probably better known for its deer hunting, but the Show Me State also services plenty of dove hunters looking to fill their bag limits. Just like Alabama, the Missouri Department of Conservation manages some of their public hunting areas specifically for doves. They plant the fields with corn, wheat, and buckhorn to draw in migrating birds and keep them there for the duration of the state’s Sept. 1-Nov. 29 season. Just be ready for some competition. Many of these areas have proven to be exceedingly popular and you may have to scout around to find one not being utilized by hunters.
This is another great state for hunters looking for a range of options in season dates. There are three separate splits for the 2022-23 season, with the first running Sept. 3-Oct. 9, the second running Nov. 19-27, and the third going from Dec. 19-Jan. 31 statewide. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources does manage many dove fields across the state, but you must apply for a quota hunt to have access to them. Still, hunters in the Peach State regularly have no problems filling the 15-bird daily bag limit in Georgia.
The Cornhusker State may not be much to look at with its endless agricultural fields scattered across much of the state. What is boring to humans on a road trip is a flashing neon sign for the world’s biggest buffet for doves. No wonder so many birds pass through Nebraska every year. Dove hunters who take advantage often find some of the best hunting in the country. Nebraska may be better known as a waterfowl destination, but this state holds white wings, Eurasian collared, and mourning doves. The season runs Sept. 1-Oct. 30 every year.
Dove season in Arizona is not simply another hunting season, it is an ingrained cultural event with hunters pouring in from all over the country for the official kickoff each year. There are two segments to the season, and the first runs Sept. 1-15. The second runs Nov. 18, 2022-Jan. 1, 2023 and is mourning dove-only. If you want to hunt Eurasian collared doves, the season is open year-round and there is no bag limit. Arizona Game and Fish operates many dove fields, but you can also hunt on Native American tribal lands for a small fee. All of these things combined make the Grand Canyon State one of the best places in North America for dedicated wingshooters.