Approximately 8 percent of small game license holders participated in the first modern mourning dove hunting season in Wisconsin, according to results of a recent DNR survey.
Results of the survey, mailed to a random sample of 6,000 small game license holders at the conclusion of the mourning dove season, indicated about 24,400 hunters participated on an average four days during the season and harvested an estimated 202,000 mourning doves.
Hunter participation was just about what we predicted, said Keith Warnke, an upland game ecologist with the DNR Bureau of Wildlife Management. Hunters harvested about 200,000 doves; a very small portion of the estimated 4 to 5 million doves that migrate from Wisconsin each year. I am confident that this level of harvest will not have a negative impact on the states dove population, and that the new dove hunting tradition will improve mourning dove knowledge and conservation in Wisconsin.
The survey showed participation and harvest were highest in the south central part of the state (11.3 doves in 4.3 days per hunter) and southeast part of the state (10 doves in 5.4 days per hunter). Harvest was lowest in the north (3 doves per hunter). Doves were hunted primarily on private land and over harvested crops and watering sites.
Forty-eight percent of hunters reported their satisfaction with dove hunting was higher than what they expected; only 9 percent reported lower than expected satisfaction. Ninety-six percent of dove hunters responding to the survey said they planned to hunt doves again.
The survey was paid for with gifts from the United States Sportsmens Alliance and the Sheboygan County Conservation Alliance.