Dove Hunting Guide
Continuing The Dove Hunting Tradition
For thousands of people the dove hunting season offers a chance to reconnect with memories past and share those times with future generations of potential hunters. Thousands will embark on Yuma in early September for the annual dove hunting season, and while many of those people will hit their daily limits in a matter of minutes, the trip isn’t always just about the birds.
This season begins on Sunday, Sept. 1, at 30 minutes before sunrise and lasts for two weeks, but for many it’s a chance to come back home.
Yuma native Steve Stallworth is a frequent visitor in this season, despite spending the better part of the last 35 years away from his hometown.
For him, it’s always a chance to remember his childhood and hopefully bring a few new people into the fold.
“As a little kid I remember, like a lot of kids in Yuma, I started out as a bird dog,” Stallworth said. “Chasing down birds and doing all of that for my grandpa and my dad.”
Stallworth, who now lives in Las Vegas, graduated from Yuma High and after that he went on to play quarterback at UNLV. He has spent most of his career in the sports entertainment business and is currently the general manager of the South Point Arena, Equestrian Center.
“Opening day was always a great tradition in our family,” he said. “I’m thrilled. There have been a lot of years that I’ve had to miss, but it’s awesome to
go down there with my brothers and their kids, just to see the tradition live.”
While he doesn’t live here anymore, Stallworth does have plenty of family still in the area. The September trip offers a chance for all of them to pass down the tradition of going out for doves.
“I think just watching it stay alive with my little brothers and their kids, and my sisters’ kids,” he said. “For me, it’s awesome. My son has been a bird dog a few times, but he’s been a quarterback his whole life.”
The family aspect of the hunt is big, but the doves themselves offer a different challenge for hunters. With the dove hunt there is a lot of action, and if you’re a decent shot, there is a halfway decent chance that you’ll hit your daily limit very early in the day. It’s a big difference than some types of big game hunting, where you spend an entire day looking for one shot, and just hope that you take that many.
“The thing is with me, I’ve gone big game hunting occasionally,” Stallworth said. “Typically when you go on a big game hunt, you take one shot and it’s over. Then I’m done. What I love about dove hunting is that I’ll go through about four boxes of shells to get to my limit. I get a little action.”
With the appeal that the unique hunting grounds have around Yuma, Stallworth has been bringing friends down throughout the years to get a real feel for the dove season.
Stallworth is bringing company this season from Las Vegas — his coworker Joe Baumgartner. Baumgartner is a hall of fame bull fighter who is a repeat visitor and has hunted for pretty much everything across the country.
“When you look up cowboy in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Joe,” Stallworth said.
Baumgartner wasn’t embarrassed of the tougher nights he’s had as a bull fighter, even encouraging the looking up of a rough going he had in 2008 with a bull named All In. That makes sense considering the he has been around bull fighting most of his life.
“When I was a kid I got a job working on a ranch and the guy owned a bunch of bucking bulls,” he said. “One day he needed a bullfighter, I was 15, and he needed someone to work a junior rodeo. I figure, hell, why not? I could try it.”
Baumgartner has hunted a variety of game, but he enjoys the quick action of the dove season.
“That’s the fun part for me and the guys that I go with. Rhett (Stallworth, Steve’s brother) shoots really well and Steve shoots really well, but not all of them are great shots,” Baumgartner said. “It’s fun to shoot mine and then sit back, sweat and laugh.”
He also joked that he may bring down his .410 to make the hunt a little more gamey after some of the other people in the group hit their bag limit.
“The best part about taking Joe is that when we get back to Vegas, he does the cooking,” Stallworth said. “He does the grilling. He wraps them up in bacon and jalapeño. We all get to go to his house and enjoy.