Sunday, July 21, 2024


Dove Hunting


Washington’s mourning dove hunting season opens up September 1 and goes until October 30 with a daily bag limit of 15 birds and possession limit of 45 birds. This is a popular season for a niche group of hunters. In 2021, 3,626 hunters reported harvesting 42,458 birds, for an average of nearly 12 doves harvested per hunter. There were likely many more hunters in the field than this since typically only 50% of hunters report their harvest and reporting your dove harvest is not required anymore.

Most dove are harvested in Central Washington or Southeastern Washington, where abundant grain fields and nearby water sources attract these birds. The bulk of the dove will stay in our area until the first day the temperature drops to freezing, at which point many of the birds will migrate south to warmer climates. Like many human snowbirds, many of the mourning dove end up in Arizona or Southern California for the winter.


Grant and Adams County– Paula Clements with WDFW says they don’t do surveys but they do dove banding every year between July and the end of August. If you harvest a banded bird, Clements requests you call the number on the band and report where you harvested it. This gives biologists an idea of what hunter harvest looks like for birds. Grant County is consistently one of the best locations to harvest dove. Last year a little more than 9,500 dove were shot there and in Adams County some 1800 birds were taken by hunters. Clements expects a harvest similar to last year.

Clements says scouting is key when it comes to having success on opening day. Scoring private property access where there are grain fields is also helpful. You can find both public lands and private land access through WDFW partnerships on the WDFW hunt planner web map available at

Klickitat County – Speaking with Stephanie Bergh, this area’s district biologist for WDFW, she said they don’t do any surveys or banding of doves in Klickitat County so she doesn’t have a good read on how things are going to be this year. One challenge hunters face is the fact that there is little public land suitable for dove hunting in the county. In fact, in 2021 no dove were harvested in Klickitat County though in 2020, 600 birds were harvested by eight people.

Biologists were unavailable for comment in the Wenatchee and Omak District offices prior to this column’s publication deadline.

Dove hunting tips:

Troy Rodakowski is a well-known Pacific Northwest outdoors writer and avid dove hunter who has some good advice for those venturing out for dove. To start with, dress for success and that means wearing camouflage. Hunter orange clothing is not required for dove hunting and Rodakowski points out dove are very wary and have excellent eyesight. Rodakowski suggests looking for dove in areas near food and water. Grain fields, water sources and recently burned areas where lots of seeds are present are all places that attract these birds. In terms of feed look for cut wheat, oat, barley or millet fields. Trees next to these fields are often places where doves will roost after feeding.

Dove are the most active in the morning and in the evening so hunt for them early and late in the day. Rodakowski also recommends using multiple dove decoys, and not just one or two, to attract curious birds to fence lines or trees where you are hunting.

When it comes to preparing those birds to eat after the hunt, Rodakowski loves to cook up dove poppers! He breasts out the birds and rolls the breasts in brown sugar and chili powder. He then wraps each breast in maple bacon and either grills them up or bakes them until the bacon and dove meat are cooked. Rodakowski will sometimes add a little jalapeño pepper to spice them up or a few drops of honey to sweeten the poppers.

Dove hunting is a low-key and sociable pursuit that helps get you ready for other wing-shooting opportunities that become available this fall. If you haven’t done so before, give it a try this season.

John Kruse – and




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