Hunting Mourning Dove In Florida: A Thrilling Pursuit

Key Takeaways:

  • Mourning dove hunting season in Florida occurs during specific dates and requires a valid hunting license.
  • Hunters must follow bag limits and regulations set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
  • Mourning doves are known for their fast and agile flight, making hunting them a challenging but rewarding experience.
  • Successful hunting strategies for mourning doves in Florida include scouting for feeding areas and using natural cover for concealment.

Imagine spending a crisp Florida morning in the company of great hunting companions, as the warm sun illuminates the landscape. The air is filled with the rhythmic whistle of wings as migratory birds pass overhead.

Among them, the elusive Mourning Dove, revered as a popular game bird in the Sunshine State.

As an experienced hunter with a deep passion for this sport, I can assure you that hunting Mourning Doves in Florida is an exhilarating experience that combines skill, strategy, and a connection to nature. In this article, I will provide you with valuable insights on everything from the dove’s habitat and legal regulations to choosing the right gear and hunting techniques.

Get ready to enhance your hunting adventures and create unforgettable memories chasing these graceful creatures.

Hunting Mourning doves in Florida
Hunting Season
September 5 – October 24
Licenses and Permits
– Florida hunting license\n- Migratory Bird Permit (free) or Duck Stamp (for hunters aged 16 or older)
Bag Limit
15 Mourning doves per day
Shotgun and Ammunition
– Legal shotguns: 10 gauge or smaller, capable of holding no more than three shells in the magazine and chamber combined\n- Non-toxic shot is required while hunting on federal, state, and public hunting areas
Hunting Hours
30 minutes before sunrise to sunset
– Hunters must have a Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification\n- No baiting is allowed\n- All harvested migratory birds must have a fully feathered wing naturally attached for identification purposes until reaching the final destination

The Mourning Dove: A Popular Game Bird in Florida

Habitat and Distribution of Mourning Doves in Florida

Mourning doves are found throughout Florida, both in urban areas and rural countryside.

They prefer open habitats such as fields, meadows, and agricultural lands, where they can forage for seeds on the ground.

These birds are often seen perched on wires or tree branches, cooing their distinctive mournful song.

In terms of distribution, mourning doves can be found in all counties of Florida.

They are a migratory species, with populations from northern states traveling to Florida during the winter months.

Florida’s mild climate and abundance of food make it an attractive destination for these birds.

Legal Regulations for Hunting Mourning Doves in Florida

When hunting mourning doves in Florida, there are some legal regulations you need to keep in mind.

Here are a few key points:

  • Hunting License: To hunt mourning doves, you must have a valid Florida Hunting License.
  • Season Dates: The mourning dove hunting season typically runs from early September to October, and then reopens from late November to late December. Check the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for specific dates each year.
  • Daily Bag Limit: The daily bag limit for mourning doves is 15 birds per hunter.
  • Possession Limit: The possession limit for mourning doves is 45 birds per hunter.
  • Shooting Hours: You can legally hunt mourning doves from 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
  • Prohibited Activities: It is illegal to hunt mourning doves with fully automatic firearms, using bait, or from a moving vehicle.
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Remember to always follow these regulations when hunting mourning doves in Florida to ensure a safe and legal hunting experience.

Firearms and Ammunition Requirements

When it comes to firearms and ammunition requirements for hunting mourning doves in Florida, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, you will need a valid Florida hunting license, as well as the appropriate migratory bird permit.

Secondly, shotguns are the only authorized firearm for dove hunting.

Make sure your shotgun is capable of holding no more than three shells, including the chamber. Thirdly, for ammunition, you must use non-toxic shot such as steel or bismuth.

Lead shot is not allowed for dove hunting in Florida.

Remember to always follow the regulations to ensure a safe and legal hunt.

Mourning dove hunting
Florida Huntress

Choosing the Right Hunting Gear for Mourning Doves

To successfully hunt mourning doves, you’ll need the right gear.

Here are some essential items to consider:

  • Shotgun: Opt for a shotgun with a gauge between 20 and 12. It should have a modified or improved cylinder choke to provide the ideal shot pattern.
  • Ammunition: Choose lightweight and small shot sizes, such as 7.5 or 8. These loads will help minimize pellet damage to the dove and provide better accuracy.
  • Camouflage Clothing: Wear camouflage clothing that matches the hunting environment. This will help you blend in and stay hidden from the keen eyes of mourning doves.
  • Hat and Sunglasses: Protect yourself from the sun’s glare and ensure better visibility by wearing a hat and sunglasses. They’ll also shield your eyes from any potential debris.
  • Shooting Vest or Game Bag: Invest in a shooting vest with game pouches or a game bag to carry your harvested doves. This will keep your hands free and make it easier to collect and transport your game.
  • Decoys: Optional but effective, decoys can attract mourning doves and entice them to fly closer to your hunting spot. Consider using a few realistic decoys to increase your chances of success.

Remember, preparation is key when it comes to hunting gear.

By selecting the right equipment, you’ll be well-equipped for an enjoyable and successful mourning dove hunt in Florida.

Best Hunting Seasons and Times for Mourning Doves in Florida

The best hunting seasons for mourning doves in Florida are during the fall and winter months.

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Specifically, the hunting season typically begins in September and runs through mid-January.

This is when the doves are migrating through the state, making it an ideal time to find them in large numbers.

Additionally, the best times of day to hunt mourning doves are early in the morning and late in the afternoon when they are most active.

It’s important to note that hunting regulations and specific dates may vary, so be sure to check with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for the most up-to-date information.

Hunting Techniques for Mourning Doves in Florida

When hunting mourning doves in Florida, there are a few effective techniques that can increase your chances of success. One technique is to scout for doves in agricultural fields, as they are often attracted to areas with abundant food sources.

Another technique is to use decoys to lure doves closer, especially when hunting in open areas.

Additionally, camouflage clothing and minimal movement are crucial for staying hidden and not spooking the birds. Lastly, practicing your shooting skills and aiming for the head or vitals will help ensure a clean and ethical kill.

Field Dressing and Cooking Mourning Doves

Field dressing and cooking mourning doves is a straightforward process that can be easily done at home.

To field dress a mourning dove, start by removing the feathers.

Simply pluck them or use a poultry plucker.

Next, remove the head and feet, and make a small incision from the breastbone to the vent.

Carefully gut the bird, being mindful to remove the crop and intestines.

Rinse the bird with cold water and pat it dry.

When it comes to cooking mourning doves, they are best prepared by marinating them for a few hours to enhance the flavor.

You can then grill, roast, or pan-fry them until they are cooked through.

The meat should be seared on the outside while remaining pink and juicy on the inside.

One popular recipe is to wrap the dove breasts in bacon and grill them until the bacon is crispy.

This adds a delicious smoky flavor to the meat.

Another option is to stuff the doves with a mixture of herbs, cheese, or even jalapenos for a flavorful twist.

Overall, field dressing and cooking mourning doves is a simple process that can result in a tasty and satisfying meal.

Just be sure to follow proper food safety guidelines and enjoy the fruits of your hunt!

Mourning Dove Hunting
Florida’s Feathered Target

Tips for a Successful Mourning Dove Hunt in Florida

Here are some tips that can help you have a successful mourning dove hunt in Florida:

  • Scout the hunting area beforehand to locate their favorite feeding and watering spots.
  • Set up your decoys strategically to attract the doves and create a natural-looking environment.
  • Find a good hiding spot or use a hunting blind to conceal yourself from the birds.
  • Be patient and stay still, as mourning doves are easily spooked.
  • Practice your shooting skills to improve your accuracy.
  • Use appropriate ammunition for mourning doves, such as size 7.5 or 8 shot.
  • Keep an eye on the weather conditions, as doves are more active during calm, cool mornings.
  • Hunt during the first few hours of the day when doves are most active.
  • Respect legal regulations and limits set by the state for hunting mourning doves.
  • Always prioritize safety by wearing appropriate gear and follow proper firearm safety protocols.
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Conservation and Ethical Considerations for Mourning Dove Hunting

Conservation and ethical considerations are important when it comes to hunting mourning doves. As a responsible hunter, I always make sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Respect bag limits: It’s crucial to adhere to the regulations set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regarding the number of mourning doves you can harvest. This helps maintain a healthy population.
  • Preserve habitat: Doves rely on specific habitats for nesting and feeding. By protecting and conserving these areas, we ensure their long-term survival.
  • Practice safe and ethical hunting: Hunt with safety in mind, always being aware of your surroundings. Use legal techniques and avoid shooting non-target species.
  • Use non-toxic shot: Using non-toxic shot when hunting mourning doves reduces the risk of lead poisoning in both the doves and other wildlife.
  • Respect the birds: Treat mourning doves with respect and dignity, even after harvesting them. Appreciate their beauty and recognize the role they play in the ecosystem.

By considering these conservation and ethical aspects, we can enjoy the sport of hunting while also contributing to the long-term well-being of mourning doves and their habitats.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Hunting Mourning Doves in Florida

When hunting mourning doves in Florida, there are some common mistakes that you should avoid.

One mistake is not scouting the hunting area beforehand.

It’s important to know where the doves are feeding and roosting so you can set up in the right spot.

Another mistake is shooting too early.

Mourning doves are fast flyers, so it’s best to wait until they’re in range before taking a shot.

Additionally, using the wrong shotgun choke can be a mistake.

A tight choke may result in fewer pellets hitting the target, while too wide of a choke can result in a wider spread and fewer hits.

Lastly, not practicing shooting before the hunt can lead to missed opportunities.

Take the time to practice your shooting skills so you’re confident and accurate when the time comes.

Mourning dove in flight
Flight of Freedom

Final Verdict

Hunting mourning doves in Florida is not only a popular sport but also a cherished tradition for many outdoor enthusiasts.

With their abundance and widespread distribution, these game birds provide ample opportunities for hunters to enjoy a thrilling and rewarding experience.

From knowing the habitat and regulations to choosing the right gear and hunting techniques, hunters can maximize their chances of success.

But let us remember, in pursuing our passion, we should always prioritize conservation and ethical considerations to ensure the future of this cherished activity.

Happy hunting!