Woodford County District 7
The Mourning Dove
Mourning Doves have been ducking, dodging, twisting around, and generally eluding the shot patterns of hunters in Illinois for many years. The unpredictable nature of their flight paths have sold many hunters on the notion that they can out maneuver a shot pattern traveling approximately 900 feet per second, and on more than one occasion I have been a believer.
Aside from the doves avoiding the shotgun barrel, many are indeed harvested. Sportsmen in Illinois enjoy a relatively liberal daily limit of Mourning Doves (15). This limit is based on the ability of the species to “regenerate” itself on an annual basis. Mourning Doves are one of the most opportunistic nesters in North America; utilizing almost any structure conceivable to raise a family, especially pine trees. These “non-specialized” needs allow dove populations to flourish. Another factor which helps to maintain dove population densities is their ability to raise 2-3 broods per year in northern climates, and 5-6 broods in southern areas of the country. If they are unsuccessful with a clutch of eggs, they simply start over.
Since Mourning Doves migrate across state and international borders, they are considered a migratory game bird, and therefore are protected by federal law as well as state law. Illinois CPO’s are empowered to enforce both state and federal laws utilizing our deputy Fish and Wildlife officer authority on occasions involving migratory species.
Before you hunt doves:
- You must have a FOID card or non-resident hunting license.
- Have a hunting or sportsman’s license when required.
- All licensed hunters must call and registers with the H.I.P. Program (1-800-Wetland), Lifetime hunting license holders are automatically registered.
- Habitat stamp (unless exempt)
- Shotgun capable of holding no more than 3 shells (plugged).
- Permission or permit to hunt the area.
- Hunters must attempt to retrieve and include in daily bag limits all doves which are downed.
- Unlawful to possess more than one daily bag limit while in the field or while returning to one’s car, hunting camp, or home.
- Unlawful to leave migratory game birds in the possession of another unless at his/her personal abode unless they are tagged with signature and address and total birds involved, include date of harvest. It is unlawful to give or take into possession the doves of another while in the field regardless of tagging.
- Doves are the only migratory game birds which can be completely field dressed while in the field.
- Daily limit is 15
- Possession limit is 30
- Season: Sept. 1-Oct. 17; Nov. 3-15
- Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
**NOTE: All laws regarding dove hunting are not included in the list, consult the 2001-2001 or current hunting digest for complete regulations, and public dove hunting opportunities in Illinois.
The regulations governing what constitutes the “unlawful baiting” of Mourning Doves is more liberal than those regulations concerning waterfowl. As long as grains, vegetation, or other food plants are grown at the location where hunting is anticipated, those plants (vegetation) may be mowed, shredded, or otherwise manipulated. At no time may grain, feed, seeds, or other materials, which may attract doves, be added to the hunting area. No additional supplementation may be done to plants which were grown on site is allowed. For example additional sunflower seeds cannot be added to a cultivated sunflower patch. An area is considered “baited” for 10 days following the complete removal of all such “introduced” attractants.
As we begin the 2001 hunting season, regardless of the game pursued, CPOs statewide would like to emphasize safety as our primary goal. Dove hunting is both an excellent way to introduce young people to hunting safety and to sharpen shotgun-shooting skills for the upcoming Illinois upland and waterfowl seasons.
Remember all persons engaged in hunting who were born after January 1980 are required by law to complete a hunters’ safety course offered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources free of charge before the purchase their first hunting license. Contact your regional DNR office for course dates and locations.
Area Conservation Police Officers are assigned to each safety course, and will be available to answer additional questions regarding hunting laws and outdoor safety. Further questions may be directed toward your local CPO or by contacting the regional office in your area (found in the Illinois Hunting Digest).
Dove season signifies the beginning of hunting season for many Illinois sportsmen new and seasoned. CPOs statewide would like to encourage everyone to enjoy an active and safe season, and to take the time to include someone new to the sport. Remember hunting in Illinois is a privilege; help us make that experience available to as many new sportsmen as possible.
Article by Woodford County Conservation Officer Steve Vasicek.
CPO Vasicek has been an active outdoorsmen and kayaker for a considerable part of his life. During the summer of 2000 Steve participated in the Midwestern Olympic Kayak tryouts in Eureka, Missouri. Although Steve did not make the Olympic Team he did finish with a very respectable time, and solid overall ranking. Steve is also a CPO defensive tactics instructor and a CPO firearms instructor. He actively trains for future kayaking competitions when he is not pursing poachers in Woodford county.