JEFFERSON CITY --Missouri hunters will have a 16-day teal season and a 70-day continuous mourning dove season this year.
The Missouri Conservation Commission set early migratory bird hunting seasons at its meeting May 30, subject to final approval by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The early season for blue-winged, green-winged and cinnamon teal will run from Sept. 8 through 23, with daily and possession limits of four and eight, respectively. Teal shooting hours will be from sunrise to sunset. Dove season will run from Sept. 1 through Nov. 9, with daily and possession limits of 12 and 24. Shooting hours for dove will be one half-hour before sunrise to sunset.
Teal migrate earlier in the autumn than most other species of ducks and geese. The early teal season provides an opportunity to hunt these small, fast-flying ducks, most of which leave the state long before the regular waterfowl hunting season opens. State and federal officials try to schedule teal season so it closes before large numbers of other ducks and geese arrive at wetland areas. The opening day of teal season has been as early as Sept. 5 and as late as Sept. 13 in recent years.
Dove season also is scheduled with an eye toward maximizing hunting opportunity. In 1999, the Conservation Commission broke a long-standing tradition by splitting the 60-day dove season into Sept. and November segments. The idea was to make it possible for hunters to shoot doves opportunistically during the hunting seasons for quail and pheasant. Quail and pheasant seasons open November 1.
The split dove season received mixed reviews from hunters. The MDC return to a continuous season is a compromise to accommodate both those who want a longer dove season and those who want to hunt in November. Missouri^s 70-day season makes it possible to hunt doves continuously throughout September and October and still have nine days of November dove hunting.
"The Department has received numerous concerns about the split-season format from hunters wanting to hunt doves in October," said Conservation Department Wildlife Research Biologist John Schultz. "This year^s change will maximize opportunity for those who prefer to hunt doves during October and early November. This was the season format prior to 1989 and 1991 when bag limits were raised from 10 to 12 and from 12 to 15, with season lengths reduced from 70 to 60 days."
Other 2001 early migratory bird hunting seasons are:
Sora and Virginia rails: Sept. 1 through Nov. 9 (70 days); daily and possession limits 25.
Common snipe: Sept. 1 through Dec. 16 (107 days); limits--8 daily, 16 in possession.
American woodcock: Oct. 15 through Nov. 28 (45 days); limits--3 daily, 6 in possession.
- Jim Low -