Across the country, the dove is the most popular game bird. Over 10-million days of hunting a year is attributed to these little spitfires.
Over 35 states, including Indiana have a dove-hunting season accounting for over 50 million harvested birds per year. That equates to about 10 percent of the total dove population.
Dove Breed In 48 States
Mourning dove are found in abundance throughout the Hoosier State. However, southern Indiana holds the largest concentration. Nationwide, the dove has the widest distribution of any North American game bird and is the only bird to breed in all 48 lower states.
According to the Indiana DNR, mourning dove have occurred in Indiana for quite some time. Since dove both need and prefer a location that provides trees for roosting and fields for feeding, they avoided the dense forests and open plains of unsettled Indiana. As more timber was cleared and more edge habitat was created, the dove population there began to increase.
By late summer, dove begin to flock together in preparation for their migration out of Indiana. The dove migration in the northern portion of the state is much more recognizable than in the south. Many of the states southern dove move a bit farther south in cold weather while Indiana's northern dove may merely move to the southern part of the state to winter. Snow and ice cover on food sources is the determining factor here.
Dove Populations Are Up
Dove populations have been studied on a national basis since 1953 by count surveys. Information gathered this year by call count routes in the Hoosier State had a high spring breeding population of doves that added to the estimated 475-million dove nationwide.
Indiana has a liberal limit on hunted dove. This is primarily because the Hoosier State is ranked in the top 10 for dove population of all states in the Eastern Dove Management Area. You are allowed to take 15 birds per day with no more than 30 in possession. Legal shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.
Check the Indiana DNR for current regulations.
Where To Find Them
Hunter's have literally dozens of places throughout Indiana in which to find quality dove hunting. Greene County has the 3,200-acre Hillenbrand Fish & Wildlife Area near Linton. Just outside Corydon is 26,000 acres of Harrison/Crawford State Forest. Brown County has the huge Hoosier State Forest with over 192,000 acres that holds thousands of dove.
Another good dove hunting spot is the Brush Creek Fish & Wildlife Area near Bulterville. This area has over 1,900 acres with lots of great dove food and water sources. I also can recommend the Glendale Fish & Wildlife Area. This one is located in Daviess County and is over 8,000 acres. Maps of all of these and many more public-access dove hunting areas are available on the Indiana DNR website; www.state.in.us/dnr.
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