With dove season opening, sportsmen have a lot of reasons to start preparing to go afield.
Reports from across the state are all pointing to the same thing, according to Josh Richardson, migratory game bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
"It's been a good year for doves in Oklahoma," he said. "People are seeing large groups of birds forming up, and with the summer-like weather forecast for the next seven days, those groups should continue to grow."
The previous two years had been especially hot and dry, which may have affected many hunters' approach to dove hunting.
"Concentrating on water holes the last couple of dry years has been a good strategy, but for much of the state this year, water is far from being a limited resource," Richardson said.
While Richardson said hunting watering holes is still a good strategy, it may not be quite as effective as in the past few years.
"The best strategy for this year is to do your scouting, find a field birds are concentrated on before the opener, and hunt it."
With food sources more abundant this year compared to the past few seasons, Richardson said it won't take much hunting pressure for birds to move on from heavily used fields
"So don't think you've got the whole season figured out when you find the field they're using now and gain access to it. Try to scout around for several likely fields and get permission or at least make a quick initial contact with the landowner. This should help tip the odds in your favor if and when you have to change locations because the birds' patterns have changed."
In short, Richardson sums up his outlook on the 2013 dove season this way: "Bird numbers look very good, weather looks good, habitat looks good - should be a good season if hunters do their homework (scouting) and keep hunting where the birds want to be."
This year dove season will run, statewide, followed by another nine-day period open from , statewide.
Dove hunters are required to have a valid hunting license or proof of exemption and a free Harvest Information Program (HIP) permit, both available online atwildlifedepartment.com.
Full details and regulations for dove hunting are available in the current "Oklahoma Hunting Guide," available free online at wildlifedepartment.com or at any location where hunting licenses are sold.