Dove season means busy time for local businesses
Dove Hunt 2011
Have a hunting shot to share? Send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll add it to our online slideshow!
Little as they may be, doves are a big deal in Yuma this time of year.
For many local hunters, Sept. 1 has been circled on the calendar this year, as it marks the opening of dove hunting season.
It's also one of the busiest times of year for local business owners like Richard Sprague. Not only does he look forward to getting together with his family to go hunting, but his store, Sprague's Sports, gets its biggest crowds of the year.
“It's a big deal. It a traditional kickoff to the fall hunting season and it's a time where everyone gets together. Often, we get two or three generations standing in line together.”
But for Sprague and his staff, who enjoy dove hunting as much as anybody, opening day can also be a catch-22.
“We're really busy and focused on taking care of all the hunters, but we don't miss opening day,” Sprague said. “We try find a good spot, get our limits and get back to work.”
Throughout the years, Sprague said, the same families have been coming through his store. Nowadays, he recognizes more than half of his clientele who stroll in during dove season, and it's growing every year. But Sprague said the dove hunting season is also an attraction for visitors, with some traveling from as far as Texas but mostly from Southern California.
“It's our highest concentration of customer traffic in a three- or four-day period. People coming in from out of town is a real positive thing for our economy. They're staying in hotels, they're eating at restaurants and they're shopping at our stores.”
Dove hunting season has been benefiting Yuma County for years now. Looking at the figures from last year's season, Arizona Game and Fish public information office Chris Bedinger said the numbers were on par with most years, despite the recent recession. With a tradition that dates back decades, Yuma businesses still count on dove hunting to bring in some extra dollars.
“Back before the hotel boom in Yuma, every hotel room in Yuma used to sell out during dove season,” Bedinger said. “It's a pretty good indicator for the rest of the season. ... It gives them a starting point for the rest of the year, and it's always been a big boost to the economy.”