California Dove Hunting Seasons

California dove hunting seasons, California dove hunting locations, California dove hunting public land

Here, we fetch up California dove hunting seasons, laws, and hunting locations.

Topics

  1. Seasons.
  2. Bag and possession limits.
  3. Shooting hours.
  4. Hunting license.
  5. Upland Game Bird Stamp.
  6. Hunting areas.
  7. Hunting methods.
  8. Possession and transport.
  9. Species.
  10. Hunting forum.

Species of Doves in California

There are California dove hunting seasons for five species of doves. Two of them are Migratory Game Birds and three Resident Small Game Birds. Migratory doves are regulated by federal and State law, while resident doves are regulated by the State.

Migratory Doves

Species identification chart for California dove hunting seasons.There are two species of doves that are classified as Migratory Game Birds:

    • Western mourning doves (Zenaida macroura).
    • White-winged doves (Zenaida asiatica).

See 50 CFR § 20.11(a)(2), FGC § 3500(b)(4)-(5), 50 CFR § 20.103, and FGC § 3683(b)(2)-(3), and our summary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Resident Doves

California dove hunting seasons for spotted dove.
Chinese Spotted Dove

There are three species of doves classified as Resident Game Birds, Upland Game Birds, and Resident Small Game:

    • Chinese spotted doves (Streptopelia)
    • Eurasian collared-doves (Streptopelia)
    • Ringed turtle-doves (ColumbidaeI)
California dove hunting seasons for Eurasian-Collared dove.
Eurasian-Collared Dove

See FGC § 3500(a)(1) [resident game birds] and FGC § 3683(a)(1) [upland game birds], and 14 CCR § 257 [resident small game].

California dove hunting seasons for Ringed Turtle Dove
Ringed Turtle Dove

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Hunting License

In general, to hunt doves during the California dove hunting seasons, you have to have a Hunting License from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), formerly known as “DFG.” (See FGC § 3031 and 14 CCR § 700(b)). There are also licenses for disabled hunters, hunting with a falcon, guides and outfitters, hunting clubs, and junior hunters. Warning shot!!! You have to have your license with you while hunting.

Disabled Hunters

If you’re a disabled hunter and want to hunt doves, you can apply for a Recovering Service Member Hunting License, Disabled Veteran Hunting License, or Mobility Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle License.

Falconry

If you’re going to use a falcon to hunt doves during the California dove hunting seasons, you have to have a Falconry License.

Guides and Outfitters

If you’re a commercial guide or outfitter that offers dove hunting, you have to get a Guide License.

Hunting Clubs

If you’re a commercial hunting club that offers dove hunting, you have to get a Commercial Hunting Club License.

Juniors

If you’re a Junior and want to hunt doves, you have to get a Junior Hunting License.

Warning shot!!! You have to have your license and stamps with you while hunting. See FGC § 3031, 14 CCR § 700(b), and Upland Game Bird Stamp below.

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Upland Game Bird Stamp

Upland Game Bird Stamp for California dove hunting seasons.In general, you need an “Upland Game Bird Validation” from the CDFW to hunt resident upland game birds, including resident doves during the California dove hunting seasons. The only exception is for juniors hunting with a valid Junior Hunting License.

Warning shot!!! You have to carry your license and validation with you while hunting. See “Species” above, and 14 CCR § 313.

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Seasons

There are several California dove hunting seasons, which depend on when you’re hunting and what you’re hunting for. See 14 CCR § 300.

General Seasons

Early Season

The early California dove hunting seasons are September 1 – 15, 2016). Also see Eurasian-Collared Dove below.

Regular Season

The regular California dove hunting seasons are from the second Saturday in November, extending for 45 days (November 12 – December 26, 2016). Also see Eurasian-Collared Dove below.

Eurasian-Collared Dove

The season for the Eurasian-collared dove is open all year long.

Archery Seasons

The archery seasons for doves are the same as the general seasons. NOTES: The CDFW webpage doesn’t show an archery season for doves. Section 300 doesn’t specifically show an archery season for white-winged or western mourning doves, but it’s an authorized method of take. See 14 CCR § 300(a)(2)(H) and (I) and (b)(1)(B).

Falconry Seasons

The falconry seasons for doves are the same as the general seasons. NOTES: The CDFW webpage doesn’t show a falconry season for doves. Section 300 doesn’t specifically show a falconry season for white-winged or western mourning doves, but it’s an authorized method of take. See 14 CCR § 300(a)(3)(H) and (I) and (b)(1)(B).

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Shooting Hours

Shooting hours for dove, during the California dove hunting seasons, depend on the species and where you’re hunting them. Warning shot!!! Shoot times may be further restricted on public land, e.g. Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves.

Migratory Doves

Shoot Times in Northern California for California dove hunting seasons
Northern Cal. Shooting Times.

In general, shooting hours for migratory game birds, including migratory doves, start at one-half hour before sunrise and end at sunset. However, shoot time over and around the Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo County begins at 7:00 a.m. See “Species” above, and 14 CCR § 506.

Resident Doves

Shoot Times in Southern California for California dove hunting seasons
Southern California Shoot Times.

In general, shooting hours for all upland game birds, including resident doves, start one-half hour before sunrise and end at sunset. The only exceptions are for pheasant, which start at 8:00 a.m. to sunset, and spring turkey, which end at 5:00 p.m. See “Species” above, and 14 CCR § 310.5

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Bag and Possession Limits

Daily Bag Limits

The daily bag limits during the California dove hunting seasons vary by species:

California dove hunting seasons for morning dove.
Morning Dove.
    • White-winged and mourning doves: 15 with no more than 10 white-winged doves
    • Eurasian collared-doves: NO LIMIT
    • Ringed turtle-doves: NO LIMIT
    • Chinese spotted doves: NO LIMIT

Possession Limits

The possession limit for all California dove hunting is triple the daily bag limit.

NOE: If you shoot a dove with a band (“bander), go to CDFW Mourning Dove Banding Program. See 14 CCR § 300(a)(1)(H) and (I), (a)(2)(H) and (I), (a)(3)(H) and (I), and (b)(1)(B).

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Hunting Methods

Dove hunting during the California dove hunting seasons is allowed, but only in accordance with the following hunting methods and restrictions related to: air rifles, boats, bow and arrow, calls, crossbows, decoys, dogs, falconry, muzzleloaders, pistols, rifles, shotguns, and vehicles.

Air Rifles

In general, you can use an air rifle to hunt dove during the California dove hunting seasons. While you can use any caliber of pellet (except for turkey), the air rifle can only be powered by air or gas. The same is true for all resident small game. See “Species” above and 14 CCR § 311(f).

Bait

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Boats, Kayaks, and Canoes

It used to be illegal to shoot resident small game from boats, but the regulation was repealed. See 14 CCR § 311.8 [repealed].

In general, boats may not be used to pursue, drive, or herd any bird or mammal in California, including doves. However, you can hunt migratory game birds, including doves, but only if the motor has been shut off and all momentum has ended and is either drifting, beached, moored, resting at anchor, or is being propelled by a paddle, or or pole. See FGC § 3002, 14 CCR § 251 and 14 CCR § 507.5.

Warning shots!!! These restriction also apply to airboats, sailboats, or other watercraft. There are exceptions related to agriculture, landowners, tenants, and depredating animals. Link here for additional regulations for hunting California dove on navigable waters. There may be area-specific rules for dove hunting in California on BLM, dove hunting in California national forest, California dove hunting on preserves, and other public land.

Bow and Arrow

Arhery for California dove hunting seasons.In general, a bow and arrow may be used to hunting doves in California. For migratory game birds and pheasant, you have to use arrows with flu-flu fletching. Otherwise, you can use any type of arrow except arrows with (1) lighted nocks with a beam of light, (2) an explosive head, (3) tranquilizers, or (4) poison.

Warning shots!!!

    1. Don’t shoot arrows from or across any highway, road, or place open to the pubic for vehicles.
    2. Your bow has to be capable of killing the bird from at least 130 yards.
    3. In general, you’re not allowed to have a firearm while hunting dove during archery season.*
    4. Don’t put a bow in your vehicle if it’s nocked or the end of an arrow is fit to the notch.
    5. It is illegal to possess a firearm while in the field dove hunting.*

* Proposed Regulation: there is a proposal to delete the part of 14 CCR § 507(a)(2) that says “Archers hunting during any archery season may not possess a firearm while in the field engaged in archery hunting.”

See 14 CCR § 311(e), 14 CCR § 354(d) and (g), and 14 CCR § 507(a)(2), and our summary of archery season regulations.

Calls

Electronic or mechanically-operated calling or sound-reproducing devices are NOT allowed for hunting doves in California. See 14 CCR § 311(i) and 14 CCR § 507(c).

Crossbows

A Disabled Archer Permit is required for hunting doves in California. While hunting migratory doves, only crossbows bolts with flu-flu fletching are allowed. It is illegal to possess a firearm while in the field dove hunting.* See 14 CCR § 311(n), 14 CCR § 354(d) and (g), and 14 CCR § 507(a)(2), and our summary of California archery regulations.

* Proposed Regulation: there is a proposal to delete the part of 14 CCR § 507(a)(2) that says “Archers hunting during any archery season may not possess a firearm while in the field engaged in archery hunting.”

Decoys

Warning shot!!! Live decoys are NOT allowed for hunting doves or any other resident game birds. See 14 CCR § 311(l) and 14 CCR § 507(d).

Dogs

In general, you can use dogs to take and retrieve doves during the California dove hunting seasons. See 14 CCR § 311(0) and 14 CCR § 507(b).

Falconry

Falconry for California dove hunting seasonsIn general, you can use a falcon to hunt doves during the California dove hunting seasons. The same is true for all resident small game. See 14 CCR § 311(d) and 14 CCR § 507(a)(1).

Muzzleloaders

In general, you can use to muzzle-loading shotguns to hunt doves during the general California dove hunting season. The same is true for all resident small game. See 14 CCR § 311(c) and 14 CCR § 507(a)(3).

Poison

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Rifles and Pistols

Warning shot!!! Rifles and pistols are NOT allowed for hunting dove. (For resident small game, they’re only allowed for hunting squirrels and rabbits everywhere except Los Angeles County.) See 14 CCR § 311(g).

Shotguns

In general, you can use a shotgun to hunt dove, during the California dove hunting season. However, there are restrictions for the shell capacity and type of gauge, plug, and shells. The same is true for all resident small game. See 14 CCR § 311(a) and (b).

Gauge

Shotguns for California dove hunting seasonsIn general, you only use shotguns that are 10 gauge or smaller (e.g. 12 gauge). For migratory game birds, you can only use shotguns that are 12-guage or smaller on, over, or adjacent to the waters of Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo County. Warning shot!!! There are similar restrictions at California Wildlife Areas.

See 14 CCR § 311(a) [resident small game] and 14 CCR § 507(a)(4) [migratory game birds].

Plugs

If a plug is used to reduce the shell capacity, the plug has to one piece that can’t be removed without taking the gun apart.

Shell Capacity

Shotguns must be incapable of holding more than three (3) shells in the magazine and chamber combined.

Shell Capacity

Shotguns must be incapable of holding more than three (3) shells in the magazine and chamber combined.

Shell Shot

Whether you can use lead shot depends on your location, what you’re hunting for, and the date. As of July 1, 2015, it has been illegal to use or possess anything other than non-toxic shot at any California Wildlife Area, Ecological Reserve, and the Condor Range.

Beginning July 1, 2016, you’ll only be able to use non-toxic shot for hunting any upland game bird (except for dove, quail, snipe, and any game bird taken at a licensed game bird club), resident small game mammal, furbearing mammal, nongame bird or mammals, or any wildlife with a depredation permit).

As of July 1, 2019, it will be illegal to use lead for taking all wildlife in California. See 14 CCR § 250.1.

Shell Size

The shell shot size and material depends on whether you’re hunting resident or migratory doves, and where you’re hunting them.

Resident Doves

For resident small game, including resident doves, you can only use shell shot that is “No. BB” or smaller, and all shot must be loose in the shell. See 14 CCR § 311(b).

Migratory Doves

For migratory game birds, including migratory doves, you can only use or possess lead that is “No. BB” or smaller or non-toxic shot that is “T shot” or smaller (e.g. steel). All shot must be loose in the shell. See 14 CCR § 507(a)(4).

Vehicles

In general, it’s illegal to pursue, drive, or herd any game bird or mammal with a motorized vehicle (e.g. airplane, motor vehicle, powerboat, sailboat, snowmobile). This includes bird driving them toward another person for the purpose of taking them. Likewise, it’s illegal to shoot any game bird or mammals from from a powerboat, sailboat, motor vehicle, or airplane. The only possible exceptions are with a permit from the CDFW and landowners / tenants to prevent private property damages.

See “Boats, Kayaks & Canoes,” FGC § 3002, FGC § 3003.5, FGC § 3501, and 14 CCR § 251.

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Possession and Transport

After you kill any game bird, including dove, it has to be identifiable by the CDFW until it reaches your “personal abode” or “commercial preservation facility,” or is being prepared to eat it right away. For doves, you have to keep a fully feathered wing attached. For all other birds, you can either keep a fully feathered wing or head attached. See 14 CCR § 251.7(b). [Back to Topics]


California Dove Hunting Forum

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While we try to fetch up all California dove hunting seasons, laws and locations, we might miss a few or make a typo. If so, please leave a comment or question in the reply box below.