Try out some of these warm-weather and early-season bird hunts to keep your skills sharp.
By Trent Jonas
Although most bird hunting seasons in the United States occur in the fall and winter months, you can still find some fowling opportunities during the calendar’s warmer seasons, from late spring to late summer. While the varieties of game species are limited during these times, the possibilities for enjoying yourself in the field are endless. Here are some awesome warm-weather bird hunting destinations, along with our recommendations for where to stay when you go.
Kansas is one of the top dove-hunting destinations in the United States. One of the reasons the state has become a destination for dove hunters is that Kansas has year-round seasons for three species: Eurasian collared doves, ringed turtle doves, and pigeons, which are also known as rock doves. Sunflower and millet fields, and nearby water sources offer the best habitat for doves. Check the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism website for up-to-date season, licensing, and hunting area information.
If you’re new to dove hunting or prefer to have a little guidance, consider staying with a lodge that offers guided dove hunts. Upland Inn, not far from Wichita, offers room, board, and guided dove hunts in some of the state’s best dove habitat.
For bird hunters who prefer to get out while the weather is still warm, New York’s early Canada goose season is the hunt for you. With a season that opens on September 1 across much of the state, the early goose hunt is designed to cull the exploding population of the honkers in New York. The Finger Lakes region offers some of the state’s prime goose hunting habitat.
The Frontenac Fowlers specialize in guiding bird hunts in the area and even offer a lodging option for visiting hunters: The Fowler’s Roost Lodge. You’re not required to use their guiding services to stay in the lodge, but why pass up local knowledge when you can get it?
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In Texas, hunters can target wild (non-domesticated) pigeons, also known as rock doves, and Eurasian collared doves year-round. The Chaparral Wildlife Management Area in South Texas offers good habitat for doves and is renowned as a productive hunting ground in the region.
Near Chaparral WMA, accommodations are somewhat few and far between. The town of Carrizo Springs is about 45 minutes from the WMA and offers several lodging options, including the SB-RV Park if you’re camping and the Oasis Lodge, which is a quaint hotel located on a three-acre ranch.
North Dakota is a major flyway for dozens of species of migratory waterfowl. Summer hunters will appreciate the state’s early Canada goose season, which typically opens in mid-August. The area along Lake Sakakawea—a huge impoundment of the Missouri River—makes for perfect Canada goose habitat and superb hunting. The Lewis and Clark and Trenton Wildlife Management Areas are located along the lake and river and are open to bird hunting. Be sure to check the North Dakota Game and Fish website for the latest licensing information and season dates.
Indian Hills Resort offers both tent and RV camping, as well as log camping cabins, rental condos, and lodge rooms—all on the shore of Lake Sakakawea and within easy driving distance of prime Canada goose hunting grounds.
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Maine offers turkey hunters a fall season that typically begins at the beginning of October, as well as a late spring season that runs from the end of April through early June. The Gene Letourneau (Frye Mountain) Wildlife Management Area, near the town of Knox, encompasses more than 5,000 acres of upland forest and abandoned farm fields, which make for awesome turkey hunting habitat. Note that hunting is not permitted on Sundays in Maine. Check the Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife website for other licensing and season information.
There’s little lodging near the wildlife management area, and camping, understandably, is prohibited within the WMA. But the coastal village of Belfast is less than half an hour away and offers several lodging options, such as the Seascape Motel and Cottages.