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What are the prospects for the Phoenix area Dove season this year?  I am not seeing much out in the desert being that is dryer than ever, but they are all over my neighborhood as usual.

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20 minutes ago, Whitesheep said:

What are the prospects for the Phoenix area Dove season this year?  I am not seeing much out in the desert being that is dryer than ever, but they are all over my neighborhood as usual.

No doves this year, they have all moved to town

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The best spot I've seen in years is on the 202 San Tan between AZ Ave and McQueen. Dairy on the right side going east. A decent wing shot should have their limit before any cops show up.

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I am from AJ I hunt near the cow farms by the 202 south and hawes road. Near the cow farms! And yes they are legal! I get checked by game and fish there all the time. They check my gun my birds and see if i pick up my shells and they go to the next group. Tons of fun and still lots of birds! I bag out in 30 minutes

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In the sky, sorry had to, not much by Roosevelt 

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On 8/16/2020 at 4:47 PM, Whitesheep said:

What are the prospects for the Phoenix area Dove season this year?  I am not seeing much out in the desert being that is dryer than ever, but they are all over my neighborhood as usual.

I have 84 acres here in the white mountains & guess they all came up here.  I'll be sitting on my porch with a homebrew taking them down.

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11 minutes ago, Hunterjohnny said:

Finally going to go to Yuma to see what the fuss is all about.  Going in blind but am hopeful.  

I'm going to make that trip one of these years. I used to go to Gila Bend a lot which was always a lot of fun.

 

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16 hours ago, 10Turkeys said:

 A decent wing shot should have their limit before any cops show up.

Written many years ago for my column in AZ Hunter & Angler:

 

THE LAST SHOT

OCTOBER

Copyright by Tony Mandile

SHERIFF SPOILS DOVE OPENER

     The August LAST SHOT column concerning Arizona State Trust Lands revealed the fact that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department deputy who denied access to a citizen was unaware of the statute that permits licensed hunters and fishermen to legal trespass on trust lands.  September's column covered the subject of poaching and obeying the game laws.  Coincidentally, this column will intertwine with that one.

     On September 1, at the invitation of President Michael Bond, I joined about 40 other members of the Phoenix chapter of Safari Club for a pancake breakfast and dove hunt on a private dairy farm southwest of Phoenix.  The organizers of the shoot had obtained permission from the owner.  
     At first light, we spread out along the two private dirt roads on the farm to await the morning flight of birds.  An hour later, a Maricopa County Sheriff's Department car with two uniformed officers --- one male and one female --- drove up and stopped to tell each one of us we were hunting illegally.

     My conversation with the male half of the duo went something like this.

     "I'm going to have to ask you to leave.  You're hunting within a quarter of a mile of those houses."  The deputy cocked his head in the direction of a row of houses.  

     To me, all of the homes seemed to be much farther away.  "I can't really argue with you because I haven't measured the distance, but they look like they're at least a half-mile away," I said.

     The deputy then pointed to a farm shed.  "What about that one?" he asked.

     "That's only a hundred yards away, but it's not occupied.  Besides even if it was, we have permission to hunt here.  In fact, I could be shooting off of the farmer's back porch, if I wanted to."

     "Do you have written permission on you?" he asked.

     "I don't need written permission.  All I need is verbal permission.  If you're so concerned, drive over and ask the farmer.      

     "How many birds do you have?"

     I reached down and counted the doves on my bird belt.  "Six," I replied.      

     The deputy "You're done hunting anyway.  You've got your limit."

     By this time, I was starting to get angry.  The last thing I needed was a game law violation on my record.  On the other hand, I thought no court possibly could find me guilty of a citation from a deputy with little knowledge of the game laws.  With a degree of sarcasm, I let my displeasure be known, almost daring him to write me a ticket.  "The limit happens to be ten, and no more than six may be whitewings," I told him.  "If you plan on enforcing the game laws, you should know what they are."

     "It seems you're the one who doesn't know them.  You'd better leave or I will cite you."  

     I though twice about wanting a citation.  Resisting the urge to challenge the deputy further, I picked up my spent cases and joined the others for a cup of coffee.  In the meantime, I already was thinking about this column. Ironically, the subjects of my last two columns had merged, so to speak, to affect me personally.

     I found out later that the female deputy was a detention officer for the sheriff's department and lived in one of the houses the deputy said we were too close to.  Unfortunately for us, two hunters who were not part of our group had parked near her house and had hunted quite close to it.  A few of their errant shots had peppered her car and roof.  As a result, rather than call the game department, she contacted the county sheriff's substation in Avondale for assistance.  Since we were hunting nearby, we, too, were deemed lawbreakers.

     Undoubtedly, if the deputy who answered the call knew anything about ballistics, he should have known the chance of our little #8 shot coming remotely close to any of the houses, even if they were within a quarter-mile, was highly unlikely.  The small shot from the low-based loads probably travels no more than 150 yards, at best.

     After the two officers left, one of our group hopped in his truck, drove to the nearest house and clocked the distance to the spot we were hunting.  It measured just under a half-mile.

     Still fuming from the morning's undue harassment, I called the Avondale substation later in the day and spoke to Officer Ott.  I asked for the deputy's name.  Ott told me the car's license number was not enough to identify the deputy. When he asked why I wanted it, I told him.  I also cited the pertinent laws regarding the accusations.  Here's how they read:
 
     BUILDINGS - It is unlawful to discharge a firearm within one quarter-mile of an occupied building while hunting without permission of the owner or occupant.  (Title 17, 17-309, #4 of 1987 Arizona Game & Fish Regulations)

     DOVE LIMIT - Ten (10) mourning and white-winged in the aggregate, of which no more than six (6) may be white-winged doves.  (Commission Order 19, Federal Migratory Bird Regulations)

     As anyone can readily see from the underlined words, the deputy was way off base on all counts.  None of the laws mention the need for written permission, and a ramshackle stock shed definitely fails to meet the criteria of an occupied building.  As for the limit, the numbers are quite clear. 

     I sympathized with Ott when he told me most of his officers did nothing but police dove hunters on opening morning.  At the same time I expressed my concern at how a peace officer can answer complaints and cite violators when he, himself, is ignorant of the laws.

     Officer Ott said he would mention the confrontation to his supervisors.  A few days after the incident, I spoke with Bill Powers, the head of the game department's enforcement division.  He concurred with my assessment of the unfortunate incident.  I suggested he send numerous copies of the regulations to each substation.  Surprisingly, he said before the season began he had mailed over 30,000 memos outlining the 1987 dove hunting regulations to every law enforcement officer in the state. This was done to eliminate exactly what occurred, Powers said.

     Evidently, at least one individual failed to read the pertinent memo.  Or perhaps, because the person doing the complaining just happened to be a fellow officer, the correct statutes made little difference?  

     Regardless of the reason, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department needs to have their officers bone up on the multitude of Arizona's laws, or it should leave the enforcement of such laws to the agencies who do know them.

                         ----- 30 -----

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Here's another.........

 

LAST SHOT

Copyright by Tony Mandile

START SEARCHING FOR BIRDS


As the adage says, time really flies. 

A few months ago, I put all my guns in their cases and put them safely in my out-of-the-way niche where someone has to jump through countless hoops to find and "borrow." By the time you read this, though, I'll have been out in the field at least once or twice in pursuit of the wily dove. And like many of you, the little gray rockets will have frustrated me into expending copious numbers of shotgun shells for the privilege of a few bites of meat. Doing anything else would make it seem as if I had shirked my obligation of helping keep world's shotgun ammo makers in business. 

Yet, as the season progresses, the places where bird numbers were on opening day often lose their appeal. Sometimes, the hunting pressure causes it. At other times changing factors such as the lack of once plentiful water or feed become the culprits.

Although I have done it in the past when the bird population was still high, hunting a particular spot year after year is not always a sure bet. Low grain prices might force a local farmer to switch to a more profitable crop, such as cotton, which doesn't attract birds. Or expanding development, fires and floods might have destroyed traditional roosting habitat. So it's best to get out before heading to a once favorite hotspot. Thus, prior to the opening day, I always scout out several alternative sites, and usually do so only a few days before the season. This latter part helps me avoid wasting time. Even a sudden monsoon can completely change the birds' habit in a particular area. 

One year, I went out two weeks before opening day and outstanding millet field with an irrigation ditch full of water running through it and a large citrus orchard bordering it. Waves of doves going from the cover of the orange trees to feed on the millet filled the sky on both mornings I spent there. 

I arrived a half-hour before sunrise on opening morning and walked to my preselected ambush spot. When the sun rose, only few blackbirds flew out of the grove. A developer had graded the grain field, filled the irrigation ditch and already had marked the now dusty land with wooden stakes. A large sign next to the road announced the future home of an 800,000-square-foot mall!

Even if you have a great spot for the opener, it still pays to have a backup or two. In fact, as season continues, I'm constantly searching for better hunting areas. 
My way involves a lot of driving, especially early and late in the day when the birds are moving. That's the time it's easier to pattern their daily routines. If you can figure out where they eat, drink and nest, you've won half the battle. Occasionally, this will take more than a day. 

Searching out a likely ambush spot comes next. I look for a natural blind that allows me to see in all directions. For the ease of locating downed birds, I also want one with fairly open ground close at hand. The blind might simply be a big tree, a pile of tumbleweeds or an irrigation ditch deep enough to hide in without getting wet. As a matter of habit, I always wear clothing that will blend with my planned hideout and avoid ANY white or bright colors. 

Many of the places I hunt border public land. At times, though, the better flights of birds take place over someone's farm, in which case I request the owner's permission to hunt. Most landowners are happy to have you as long as they know what you're doing in their fields. In 25 years, only one farmer, who carefully explained his anti-hunting philosophy, has refused me access. 

If you live in the Phoenix metro area and don't mind driving a bit, look to the state wildlife areas. Arlington, Robbins Butte and Black Butte are owned by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. All three are in the "Green Belt," a swath of lush vegetation that parallels the Gila River from Phoenix to Arizona's western border with California near Yuma. Local farmers lease the land and raise grain crops to help feed the doves that roost in the thick growth along the river. These areas offer excellent pass shooting as the birds fly from their roosts in the thickets and head to the nearby grain fields. 

Many hunters favor citrus groves or desert water holes, but over the last 25 years the farm country west of Phoenix, near Buckeye and Gila Bend, have been the most productive for me. In most places, a person who can shoot reasonably well --- certainly better me --- can take a limit in less time than it takes to eat a hearty breakfast. 

In the southern half of state, a lot of cities and towns have nearby agricultural regions. The farms around Casa Grande, Eloy and Florence normally offer excellent shooting. Some wing-shooters regularly describe the hunting in the fields near Yuma as incredible. At times, the Picacho Reservoir area rates a "10" as well. A friend of mine from Tucson regularly takes limits near that city or sometimes goes east to the grain fields around Safford or Wilcox. 

-----30-----

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4 hours ago, Outdoor Writer said:

Here's another.........

 

LAST SHOT

Copyright by Tony Mandile

START SEARCHING FOR BIRDS


As the adage says, time really flies. 

A few months ago, I put all my guns in their cases and put them safely in my out-of-the-way niche where someone has to jump through countless hoops to find and "borrow." By the time you read this, though, I'll have been out in the field at least once or twice in pursuit of the wily dove. And like many of you, the little gray rockets will have frustrated me into expending copious numbers of shotgun shells for the privilege of a few bites of meat. Doing anything else would make it seem as if I had shirked my obligation of helping keep world's shotgun ammo makers in business. 

Yet, as the season progresses, the places where bird numbers were on opening day often lose their appeal. Sometimes, the hunting pressure causes it. At other times changing factors such as the lack of once plentiful water or feed become the culprits.

Although I have done it in the past when the bird population was still high, hunting a particular spot year after year is not always a sure bet. Low grain prices might force a local farmer to switch to a more profitable crop, such as cotton, which doesn't attract birds. Or expanding development, fires and floods might have destroyed traditional roosting habitat. So it's best to get out before heading to a once favorite hotspot. Thus, prior to the opening day, I always scout out several alternative sites, and usually do so only a few days before the season. This latter part helps me avoid wasting time. Even a sudden monsoon can completely change the birds' habit in a particular area. 

One year, I went out two weeks before opening day and outstanding millet field with an irrigation ditch full of water running through it and a large citrus orchard bordering it. Waves of doves going from the cover of the orange trees to feed on the millet filled the sky on both mornings I spent there. 

I arrived a half-hour before sunrise on opening morning and walked to my preselected ambush spot. When the sun rose, only few blackbirds flew out of the grove. A developer had graded the grain field, filled the irrigation ditch and already had marked the now dusty land with wooden stakes. A large sign next to the road announced the future home of an 800,000-square-foot mall!

Even if you have a great spot for the opener, it still pays to have a backup or two. In fact, as season continues, I'm constantly searching for better hunting areas. 
My way involves a lot of driving, especially early and late in the day when the birds are moving. That's the time it's easier to pattern their daily routines. If you can figure out where they eat, drink and nest, you've won half the battle. Occasionally, this will take more than a day. 

Searching out a likely ambush spot comes next. I look for a natural blind that allows me to see in all directions. For the ease of locating downed birds, I also want one with fairly open ground close at hand. The blind might simply be a big tree, a pile of tumbleweeds or an irrigation ditch deep enough to hide in without getting wet. As a matter of habit, I always wear clothing that will blend with my planned hideout and avoid ANY white or bright colors. 

Many of the places I hunt border public land. At times, though, the better flights of birds take place over someone's farm, in which case I request the owner's permission to hunt. Most landowners are happy to have you as long as they know what you're doing in their fields. In 25 years, only one farmer, who carefully explained his anti-hunting philosophy, has refused me access. 

If you live in the Phoenix metro area and don't mind driving a bit, look to the state wildlife areas. Arlington, Robbins Butte and Black Butte are owned by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. All three are in the "Green Belt," a swath of lush vegetation that parallels the Gila River from Phoenix to Arizona's western border with California near Yuma. Local farmers lease the land and raise grain crops to help feed the doves that roost in the thick growth along the river. These areas offer excellent pass shooting as the birds fly from their roosts in the thickets and head to the nearby grain fields. 

Many hunters favor citrus groves or desert water holes, but over the last 25 years the farm country west of Phoenix, near Buckeye and Gila Bend, have been the most productive for me. In most places, a person who can shoot reasonably well --- certainly better me --- can take a limit in less time than it takes to eat a hearty breakfast. 

In the southern half of state, a lot of cities and towns have nearby agricultural regions. The farms around Casa Grande, Eloy and Florence normally offer excellent shooting. Some wing-shooters regularly describe the hunting in the fields near Yuma as incredible. At times, the Picacho Reservoir area rates a "10" as well. A friend of mine from Tucson regularly takes limits near that city or sometimes goes east to the grain fields around Safford or Wilcox. 

-----30-----

How many years ago did you write that?

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I stand corrected, there were a bunch of morning doves on the tonto by Roosevelt..

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Anyway....  Back to scouting reports;   The location I hunt in the west valley area (generally south of Verado) is seeing the usual hoards of doves.  Not certain of the white-wing vs. mourning break down, but the general report is good.  Also, as has been the case the past several years, there is the added bonus of lots and lots of Eurasians!!

The only caveat is that the report is from a huge dairy, so might not be representative of the average spot, but in general it looks as good as always.

Can't wait!

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