St. Louis, Mo. — Pursuing doves is an excellent way for beginning hunters to discover Missouri's hunting heritage. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is providing the ideal opportunity for first-time hunters by putting on a Managed Youth Dove Hunt and accompanying Dove Hunting Clinic.
The Managed Dove Hunt will take place at Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in Spanish Lake Monday, Sept. 1, starting at 1 p.m. and go until sunset. Sept. 1 is the statewide opening of Dove Season in Missouri. The hunt is open to youths ages 11-15.
In order to join the hunt, participants must also attend a Dove Hunting Clinic at Jay Henges Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center Saturday, Aug. 23, from 3-6:30 p.m.
The clinic will cover topics such as dove biology, hunter safety, and hunting regulations. After the classroom portion, participants will also get hands-on experience to gain effective wing shooting skills by practicing with clay birds. Ammunition, clays and firearms will be provided at the clinic.
Two fields at Columbia Bottom will be set aside exclusively for the youth hunters, so there will be no competition with adult hunters. MDC staff will be on hand to check participants in and in the field to offer advice, answer questions, and ensure a safe hunt. The hunt will not be guided however, so participants will have the chance pursue their own birds.
Dove harvest on the area was lower-than-average last year due to the results of summer flood damage. However the staff at Columbia Bottom is anticipating a different picture this year.
"We have sunflowers in and the wheat looks great," said Area Wildlife Management Biologist Andy Tappmeyer. "Birds are here already and dove hunting prospects should be pretty good this year," he added.
There will be a limited number of firearms available on a first-come, first-serve basis for participants who do not have their own.
All participants should be Missouri Hunter Education-certified by the day of the hunt. Each youth must also be accompanied by an adult mentor.
The hunt and clinic are free, but deadline for registration is July 31. Up to 40 youth will be accepted depending on field conditions. For registration or additional information, call 314-877-6014.
Columbia Bottom Conservation Area is located by taking the Riverview Drive exit of I-270 and travelling north approximately 3 miles. MDC's Jay Henges Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center is off I-44 at the Antire Road/Beaumont exit in High Ridge.