Rain May Change Outlook for Arkansas Dove, Teal Season Openers

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Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications

LITTLE ROCK — Cooler weather and rain may bring mixed emotions for wingshooters looking forward to some September seasons. Cloudbursts brought on the wings of Hurricane Laura have transformed some areas of the state overnight, affecting the prospects for dove hunting and early teal season this year.  

Rain may put a little damper on dove fields in many areas this season, particularly those prepared with top-sown wheat.

Many of the fields prepared by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission fall into the top-sown wheat category, so hunters would be well advised to make an additional trip or two to the field before opening day Sept. 5. 

“We have a few fields that are crops that have been mowed, and staff was able to get out and prepare them before the rain set in, but any of the top-sown wheat fields should be checked before you head out,” Garrick Dugger, assistant chief of wildlife management for the AGFC, said. “Most of our dove fields on WMAs are top-sown wheat because most of the areas we own usually are too wet in spring and early summer to plant agricultural crops for the dove opener.”

Top-sowing wheat offers two benefits to hunters: It serves as an attractant for doves before the seed sprouts, and it creates forage for deer, rabbits and other wildlife later in the season as the wheat grows.

“We have to manage for many species, and those wheat plots fulfill a dual purpose many hunters can benefit from,” Dugger said. “But please check the website to make sure those fields have been prepared before you head out this week to scout for doves. With the amount of rain most of the state has received, some of these fields may not be as attractive to doves on opening weekend.”

Hunters looking for places to find some action during Arkansas’s early teal season, however, may have a bit of renewed excitement from the August rains. With only two weeks to wait until the Sept. 15 opening day of early teal season, waterfowl hunters may want to check out areas like Frog Bayou, Ed Gordon Point Remove, Dardanelle and Cypress Bayou WMAs to look for standing water and fast-flying ducks. But biologists warn a lot can happen in two weeks, both with water levels and bird migrations. Hunters would again be wise to put on some rubber boots and do some ground-truthing for themselves. 

Arkansas’s dove season is Sept. 5-Oct. 25 and Dec. 8-Jan. 15. Dove may be hunted only with shotguns and may be taken from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset. Mourning dove and white-winged dove have a daily limit of 15, combined. Eurasian collared-dove have no limit but must remain fully feathered in the field and while being transported from the field, for identification purposes. In addition to a hunting license, hunters must register for the Harvest Information Program for free by visiting www.agfc.com and clicking on the “Buy Licenses/Check Game” tab or by calling 800-364-4263. HIP registration is not available at license vendors outside of the AGFC. Visit www.agfc.com/dove for more information about dove hunting in Arkansas. 

Arkansas’s teal season is Sept. 15-30. Shooting hours are from sunrise until sunset. Hunters may take up to six teal, which may be blue-winged, green-winged or cinnamon teal. No other duck species may be taken. Teal hunters may possess only nontoxic shot and must have a hunting license, federal and state migratory bird stamps and HIP registration. Visit www.agfc.com/earlymigratory for more information about teal hunting in Arkansas.

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Tammy Teague

Tammy Teague

Education: 1995 MHS graduate; 1999 Arkansas Tech University Graduate - BA in Journalism. Career: Managing Editor - The Citizen; Copy Writer - Southwest Times Record; Editor - Resident Press. 20+ years experience in the news.

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