CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Opening day of dove season is Sept. 1, and southeast Missouri has some great areas for dove hunting, according to Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Wildlife Management Biologist Matt Bowyer. Bowyer said hunters will see regulation changes at a few of these top hunting locations.
“These areas are a big reason why Missouri is such a great place to hunt,” Bowyer said. “They’re intensively managed for wildlife diversity and hunting is just one of the benefits we reap from that management.”
The top conservation areas in southeast Missouri for dove hunting are Otter Slough Conservation Area (CA) near Dexter, Ten Mile Pond CA near East Prairie, and Maintz Wildlife Preserve near Jackson, according to Bowyer.
He said the biggest regulation changes this year are at Otter Slough and Ten Mile Pond CAs, where there will be a lottery drawing to allocate hunting positions at 4:30 a.m. the first three days of the season. After Monday, hunters will participate in self-check-in at the areas headquarters before going out to hunt. At Ten Mile Pond CA, one field will be withheld from the draw on Saturday and Sunday to facilitate a Wheeling Sportsman hunt in cooperation with the National Wild Turkey Federation.
Bowyer said hunting permits are no longer sold at Ten Mile Pond CA, and hunters must be properly licensed before arriving to hunt at any conservation area.
At Maintz Wildlife Preserve, all hunters are required to sign in at one of the parking lots on the area before hunting. One field at Maintz will be closed opening day until 1 p.m. for use as part of a youth managed hunt. Bowyer said the designated field will be marked on area maps found at each parking area and will be open to all hunters after 1 p.m.
Other limited dove hunting opportunities in southeast Missouri include Holly Ridge, Crowley’s Ridge and Little River CAs, and Sweet Gum Access. Hunters must sign a hunter card in the parking lots at Crowley’s Ridge and Little River CAs.
“All of these places have decent hunting opportunities, but they don’t facilitate as large of a crowd as the more intensively managed conservation areas such as Ten Mile Pond, Otter Slough and Maintz,” Bowyer said.
As a reminder, only non-toxic shot is allowed at Ten Mile Pond, Otter Slough and Little River CAs. Hunting hours at all of these areas follow statewide regulations, beginning one half-hour before sunrise and ending at sunset. This is a change from previous years at Maintz Wildlife Preserve.
For more information, directions and maps of dove fields at these conservation areas, go online to mdc.mo.gov or call (573)290-5730.