Hunter Opinions Regarding Mourning Dove Management on Alabama Public Lands

The importance of public lands for mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) hunting in the Southeast may increase as other dove hunting opportunities decrease. Maximimizing satisfaction of dove hunters on public lands requires knowledge concerning hunter opinions and preferences. We documented dove hunter satisfaction on state Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in Alabama with respect to habitat and hunter management. Crops planted were the primary management concern; hunters preferred corn and browntop millet for dove hunting. Most dove hunters encountered unsafe conditions primarily blamed on crowding, but safety problems detracted little from overall hunting satisfaction. Hunters generally were satisfied with regulation enforcement and season starting date. Low success or perceived likelihood of success did not appear responsible for a low percentage of dove hunters using WMAs, and these factors seemed unimportant to overall satisfaction. Hunter density on dove fields should be limited to assure safety, and hunter education should emphasize safety issues associated with dove hunting. Planting browntop millet and corn in dove fields may increase hunter satisfaction on WMAs, but we recommend improved public relations programs that educate hunters regarding dove hunting safety, dove food preferences, and dove nutritional needs.

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