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HUNTING: Small game hunt seasons looking like a bonanza

Arizona Game & Fish

Promising outlooks on three species are adding up to a small game bonanza in Arizona this year, and if late rains and other climate factors align, waterfowl hunting could provide a little extra fun.
Arizona Game & Fish Department biologists say doves and cottontails are seemingly everywhere, especially in the central part of the state.

Gambel's quail numbers are near normal for the first time in almost a decade, with the best numbers also in the central part of the state.

Waterfowl are always an unknown this time of year, but even an average year would broaden the wingshooting enjoyment factor exponentially.

"Get your shooting eye on early dove," game chief Tice Supplee said. "Then have a winter of fun with quail and rabbit, and in the late season, dove once again. It's a natural small game progression for the whole family,"

The early dove season is Sept. 1-10. Quail season is Oct. 8 to Feb. 7, 2005. Rabbit season is year-round. The late dove season is Nov. 19 to Jan. 2, 2005. The waterfowl seasons will be set at the Game & Fish Commission's Aug. 13-14 meeting in Flagstaff.

Hunters are hoping ducks will add spice to the small game potpourri this year.

"The timing was just right for our late-winter and early spring rains this year, with many multiday soakings in central Arizona, so quail reproduction has been decent," said Mark Zornes, department small game biologist.

The annual grasses and seed production was tremendous, providing plenty of food and cover for great mourning dove reproduction. And rabbits have been, well, breeding like rabbits.

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