Kankakee FWA, a Dove’s Delight
If you’re interested in hunting dove in Indiana, there are few properties better than Kankakee Fish & Wildlife Area (FWA), which is near North Judson.
Kankakee FWA is on the Kankakee and Yellow rivers and is an excellent example of northwest Indiana’s ecological diversity. A remainder of Grand Kankakee Marsh, the property includes wetlands, forests, rivers, agricultural land, and more, and is a major flyway for many migratory birds—especially doves, ducks, and geese.
The 4,000-plus acres provide a place for these birds to thrive and hunters to enjoy. Each year, Kankakee FWA staff and partners plant nearly 80 acres of sunflower fields for doves. These fields are planted alongside corn and soybeans on land leased to local farmers, enabling a healthy rotation of crops and sunflowers.
As opening day of dove season approaches, the property starts mowing strips through the sunflower fields. The first strip is mowed nine to ten days before opening day (Sept. 1) and is farthest from designated shooting locations. The second and third strips are then cut progressively closer to the shooting locations over the next few days.
The heads of sunflowers shatter when the fields are cut, dispersing seeds, stalks, and sometimes roots. The seeds become food for doves, and the stalks and roots serve as grit, which the birds eat to help digest seeds. This system of planting and mowing brings thousands of doves to these locations and gradually attracts the birds closer to designated shooting sites, providing closer and more ethical shooting opportunities.
Because of the popularity of dove hunting at Kankakee FWA, online reservation draws are held for September 1st and 2nd. Sign up for draws begins in summer of each year at on.IN.gov/reservedhunt. Any unfilled hunting spots for these dates are filled by stand-by hunters. Starting on September 3rd, an in-person draw is held on site at 11 a.m CT every day until hunting pressure has decreased.
Later in the first season and during the fall and winter seasons, dove hunting participation typically decreases, and draws are no longer necessary. Decisions on the need for draws are made daily, so it’s best to call the property for updated information before visiting. If no draw is occurring, dove hunting is open from sunrise to sunset.
Dove hunting requires few pieces of equipment and is a great entry point for those interested in hunting. More information on Kankakee FWA, including contact information and specific draw procedures, can be found at on.IN.gov/kankakeefwa.
The Division of Fish & Wildlife manages public lands so Indiana’s fish, wildlife, and habitats can thrive and benefit present and future generations of Hoosiers.
At a Fish & Wildlife area you can:
- Hunt and trap
- Enjoy shooting sports
- View wildlife and practice wildlife photography
- Walk in nature
- Enjoy scenic views
Check in is required. Camping is also available at Glendale, J.E. Roush Lake, and Willow Slough Fish & Wildlife Areas. To plan a visit and learn more about Fish & Wildlife areas, go to on.IN.gov/dfwproperties.