If you are looking for an excuse not to hunt doves, don’t look to the Missouri Department of Conservation. Its staff has prepared 178 fields in 95 of Missouri’s 114 counties especially for dove hunting. No one in the state is far from a dove field.
Missouri’s dove season runs from Sept. 1 through Nov. 9. The daily limit is 15. In years past, the possession limit was twice the daily limit. This year, however, the Missouri Conservation Commission increased the possession limit to 45.
Mourning doves make up the vast majority of Missouri’s dove harvest, but Eurasian collared doves and white-winged doves also are found in the Show-Me State and are legal during dove season. Missouri residents age 16 through 64 must buy a small game hunting permit to pursue doves. All dove hunters 16 and older must have a Missouri Migratory Bird Hunting Permit.
More than 20,000 Missourians hunt doves. Why do so many people pursue such a small bird? Partly because doves are challenging game. They fly at speeds of up to 55 mph and perform aerial maneuvers that would inspire a “top gun’s” envy.
Doves’ popularity also stems from their abundance. When they aren’t humiliating hunters (who average approximately five shots per dove taken), doves are nesting. They start in March and continue well into September, often rearing six clutches in a year. This year’s nesting season got off to a slow start on account of cool weather. On the whole, however, weather has been favorable, and the Conservation Department predicts a strong hatch.
Each year, the Conservation Department plants sunflowers, corn wheat, sorghum and other crops at conservation areas to provide food for doves and other wildlife. These fields typically are treated in the weeks leading up to Sept. 1 to create prime feeding spots for doves. This practice also creates excellent hunting.