The mourning dove hunt will begin Sept. 1, but I am not quite sure what the opening morning will bring.
I have yet to see the increase in bird numbers that would indicate doves are beginning to move south. Normally, I begin to notice the annual influx of migrating doves by the second week in August.
Sometimes the birds will move into central Nevada and stack up in agricultural or wetland areas, where they wait for temperatures here in the south to cool off. But Marcus Jones, manager of the Kirch Wildlife Management Area in northeastern Nye County, said he hasn’t seen an influx of doves yet, either. There are a few birds on the management area, but nothing significant. He said it probably will take some kind of weather event up north and at elevation to push the doves south and into the valleys.
On a normal year, Jones usually sees the largest influx of migrating doves during the second and sometimes the third week of September. Consequently, the guys who focus only on opening weekend miss out on some of the season’s best shooting.
I am sure to get a few emails asking where one should go to hunt doves near Las Vegas. There aren’t many places left that are close by, so be prepared to drive at least an hour and probably longer than that. If you are new to Southern Nevada, you will want to put the Overton, Key Pittman and Kirch Wildlife management areas on your list. Since Overton is closest to the valley, it receives a lot of hunting pressure, especially on opening day and the first weekend, so reservations are required to hunt on those days. You can make those on Monday at the Nevada Department of Wildlife offices in Las Vegas and Henderson. Be there by 8 a.m.
You also will want to consider the Ash Meadows and Pahranagat National Wildlife refuges in Amargosa Valley and Pahranagat Valley. Be sure to bring only steel shot when hunting the refuges or the management areas.
The agricultural areas near Mesquite and Panaca can sometimes offer excellent hunting, but be sure to seek permission before hunting on someone’s property. Saturday might be a good chance to do that. Don’t wait until 5 a.m. on opening day; you will probably get run off at that point.
Some serious dove hunters will make more than one trip to Blythe, Calif., where they hunt local agricultural areas. I have never hunted in Blythe, so I can’t tell you much about it, but those I have talked with say the hunting can be good. Of course, you will need a California hunting license and the patience to deal with crowds.
Another destination you might want to consider is the Fort Mohave Indian Reservation that straddles the southern tip of Nevada and the state line between Arizona and California. The reservation offers nontribal hunters access to 20,000 acres, of which about 15,000 are under cultivation.
You will need a Fort Mohave hunting permit, which can be purchased at the Kmart in Bullhead City, Ariz., or the tribal smoke shop in the Avi resort south of Laughlin. For more information, contact the reservation at (928) 3330-3000.
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.