Quail Country // Yuma Dove Hunting Program


Southwest Quail Forever Biologist Megan McWard Preparing for Another Successful Yuma Dove Hunting Program

Partnering with landowners to provide recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat and long-lasting private lands/state agency relationships is a primary focus of the Landowner Relations Program for the Arizona Game & Fish Department (AZGFD). Just ask Megan McWard, Quail Forever Farm Bill biologist for region four near Yuma, Arizona who oversees the very successful and nationally-acclaimed Yuma dove hunting program, working closely with private landowners to establish voluntary public access.

“The dove plot program began as a way to not only keep doves around Yuma longer, but to also offer more hunting opportunities in an area that has a good patchwork of private and public lands. The goal is to provide high-quality hunting opportunities close to town,” explained Megan McWard.

AZGFD partners with landowners through a short-term recreational access agreement primarily funded using Pittman Robertson dollars and State Access funding (from application fees), in addition to federal VPA-HIP grants. Favorite dove foods such as sorghum, millet or wheat (or a combination) are planted at the landowner’s discretion and opened for hunting access. This past season, a total of 75 acres split between six fields ranging in size from 10 to 15 acres were enrolled in the program. AZGFD does its very best to minimize recreational damage by providing hunter education signs, trash bins, and extra patrols during open seasons to ensure safe and successful opportunities for hunters and land tenants alike.

“Yuma is the dove hunting capital of the Southwest and these dove plots are a great example of private/public partnerships which QF is involved with, in addition to putting quality habitat on the landscape for upland birds,” added McWard. I am always on the hunt for more cooperators and fields to signup for the program. One goal for the coming year is to partner with a previous cooperator to offer a youth-only field, helping to spur on the next generation of young men and women in the outdoors.”