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Mourning Dove

Managed Dove Fields

Managed Dove Fields

Explore a map of managed dove fields on state game lands, dove hunting strategies and regulations, information on dove habitat management, and more...

Download and print a brochure about dove hunting regulation and field management. PDF (legal-sized paper). 

Review Seasons and bag limits in the current Hunting & Trapping Digest in the Waterfowl & Migratory Game Birds section.


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Review other dove hunting regulations

Other federal and state regulations apply to hunting doves and other migratory game birds, including the following:

Licenses required: A hunting license or mentored youth permit and migratory game bird license (HIP) are required to hunt doves in Pennsylvania.

Unplugged shotguns: You cannot hunt migratory game birds with a shotgun that can hold more than three shells, unless you plug it with a one-piece filler that cannot be removed without disassembling the gun, so its total capacity does not exceed three shells.

Motorized vehicles: You cannot hunt migratory game birds from or by means, aid, or use of any motor vehicle, motor-driven land conveyance, or aircraft.

Hunting hours: Hunting hours for migratory birds, including doves, in Pennsylvania are one half hour before sunrise to sunset. The noon start time for the early dove season has been eliminated. 

Closed season: You cannot hunt migratory game birds during the closed season. Check the current Hunting & Trapping Digest for season dates.

Daily bag limit: You can take only one daily bag limit in any one day. The daily bag limit for doves in Pennsylvania is 15.

Wanton waste: You must make a reasonable effort to retrieve all doves that you kill or cripple and keep these birds in your actual custody while in the field. You must immediately kill any wounded birds that you retrieve and count those birds toward your daily bag limit. Your birds must remain in your possession while in the field.

Tagging: You cannot put or leave migratory game birds at any place or in the custody of another person unless you tag the birds with your signature, address, number of birds identified by species, and the date you killed them.

Learn about manipulating of crops and other vegetation

Agricultural crops and natural vegetation may be manipulated to improve dove hunting. Manipulation means the alteration of agricultural crops or natural vegetation by activities such as mowing, shredding, discing, rolling, chopping, trampling, flattening, burning, or herbicide treatments. Manipulation does not include the distributing or scattering of seeds, grains, or other feed after removal from or storage on the field where grown. Manipulation does not include the placement of grain in piles or other artificial concentrations.  

You may hunt doves over manipulated grain crops, such as wheat, milo, sorghum, millet, sunflower, and buckwheat. You should be aware that although you can hunt doves over manipulated agricultural crops, you cannot hunt waterfowl or other wildlife species over manipulated agricultural crops except after the field has been subject to a normal harvest and removal of grain recognized as a normal agricultural process. A managed dove field, which has had a crop manipulated, is off limits to hunting of all other species until 30 days after the manipulated grain and/or its residue is removed from the field.

Agricultural activities other than planting or harvesting also scatter grain or other feed in agricultural areas. You can hunt doves in such areas provided the agricultural operation involved is a normal agricultural practice. A normal agricultural planting is a planting undertaken for the purpose of producing or gathering a crop. Normal plantings do not involve the placement of grain in piles or other concentrations. You cannot, however, hunt in an area where grain, salt, or other feed has been placed to improve dove hunting.

Learn how to manage your own dove fields

Doves feed on seeds from native and cultivated plants and need bare ground to maneuver. Heavy grass thatch is a deterrent and should be removed for best results. Pokeweed, ragweed, and foxtail often found in abandoned fields, provide a great native food source. Spur these plants from the seedbank by discing in fall or winter. Fallow strips, with bare ground and a native seed source, are a great compliment between crop plantings.

Millet, buckwheat, sorghum, and sunflower are some of the best crop food sources for doves. Time your planting so you have mature seeds prior to September 1. Sunflowers typically take 120 days to mature so they should go in the ground in late April or early May, while millet and buckwheat can be planted a little later. Consider planting winter wheat in late fall as an early seed source for the following year. Regardless of the field composition, doves need seeds to be available on relatively bare ground, which will require some type of soil manipulation in most cases.

Dove Field Management Best Practices (PDF)

Related Links

Read this short blog post to learn what a decade of banding doves has taught us.

Read the Dove Wildlife Note to learn about the natural history of this species.

Download mourning dove nest basket plans.

View a beginner's guide to backyard bird feeding.

Find Mourning Dove Banding reports under Wildlife Management Annual Reports by filtering by Game Bird and scrolling to reports numbered 55001.

Wildlife Diseases

Trichomoniasis is considered the most important disease of mourning doves in North America.

Upland gamebirds (such as mourning doves and wild turkeys), songbirds, and raptors can experience varying degrees of mortality due to avian pox.

Mourning dove hunting