Dove hunting season will open Sunday, Sept. 1, across Oklahoma. The dove opener is always a highly anticipated opportunity for many hunters to get back into the field and harvest some game after the long, hot summer.

Bagging a daily limit of 15 birds might prove to be more difficult this year than in the past, thanks to rainy conditions earlier this year, according to Josh Richardson, migratory game bird biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

“Dove numbers are probably down a little this year. The heavy rains we had in the spring probably disrupted the early nests. But the summer nests were likely in good shape. There are still plenty of birds out there,” he said.

Cooler-than-average conditions could hold down the number of doves flocking to feeding fields and watering holes during the first days of the hunting season. “This doesn’t mean the birds are gone; they are just scattered more and move less on cooler, overcast or rainy days,” Richardson said. "If the following week is warm and dry, the Free Hunting Weekend should be looking good."

FREE HUNTING DAYS

The first full weekend of September is traditionally Free Hunting Days in Oklahoma. This year, on Sept. 7-8, Oklahoma residents can get outdoors to pursue game in season without the need to carry a state hunting license.

These free days also provide a perfect chance for current hunters to gather up some folks who have never been hunting and give them an experience that might open a door for them, as well as help continue a time-honored American tradition.

This year, open hunting seasons during Free Hunting Days include squirrel, raccoon, beaver, striped skunk, coyote, dove, rail, gallinule, teal, and resident Canada goose. State Game Wardens will not check for state hunting licenses or permits for residents on those days. But all hunters who plan to pursue teal, geese, rail or gallinule on Sept. 7-8 must carry the federal waterfowl stamp unless exempt.

GET LICENSES ONLINE

This year’s dove opener will be the first with the Department’s new Go Outdoors Oklahoma online licensing system. Using a computer or a mobile device, dove hunters are now able to buy hunting licenses and get a HIP permit immediately at license.GoOutdoorsOklahoma.com. The licenses and permits are delivered via email to the hunter, and the electronic versions are now valid proof for license holders in the field.

The easiest way to interact with the Department is to download the free Go Outdoors Oklahoma mobile app, available for Apple and Android devices. Experience new customer service features allowing customers to purchase, access and store license information, no matter where they are. The app is also a legal means of carrying licenses in the field. And hunters are able to complete e-check forms through the app, regardless if there is a cellular connection. The app automatically syncs when cellular service returns.

The mobile app also provides handy access to the hunting and fishing regulations guide, wildlife management area information and maps, and even access to the online hunter education certification course.

All sportsmen and sportswomen – especially lifetime license holders and returning customers – should sign in to the Go Outdoors Oklahoma online system to update their information and complete their profile setup. New users are invited to create a profile.

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