Forty-three public dove fields will be available across the state during the 2011-12 season through the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Management Area program. A county-by-county list of public dove fields and special youth hunts is available online or can be obtained by writing: DNR, Attn: Public Dove Fields, PO Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202, or by calling (803) 734-3886 in Columbia. The Public Dove Field List is also available at local DNR offices.
The 2011-12 mourning dove season will run as follows: Sept. 3-5 (noon until sunset); Sept. 6–Oct. 8; Nov. 19-26; and Dec. 21–Jan. 15. Legal hunting hours for mourning dove season, except for Sept. 3-5, are from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset. The daily bag limit is 15 birds per day.
Dove season traditionally opens on either the first Saturday in September or on Labor Day, whichever comes first. Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, seasons for migratory game birds cannot begin before Sept. 1. The state’s mourning dove season is set each year by the DNR Board within a framework of regulations and timetables issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The number of hunters will be limited by a public drawing on five fields, the Oak Lea WMA field in Clarendon County, the Tuomey Fields (2 fields) in Sumter County, the Draper Tract field in York County, and the Pee Dee Station site in Florence County. Applications are available online or by calling (803) 734-3609. The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. on August 12.
A limited number of openings are available on eight special youth dove hunts scheduled for Abbeville, Anderson, Newberry, Oconee, Orangeburg, Sumter, Union and York counties. Applications for the special youth hunts are also available online. No preregistration or application is required for the youth hunts at Botany Bay Plantation WMA in Charleston County. Applicants for the special youth dove hunts should be aware that adults are not allowed to shoot on any of the special youth dove hunts.
Hunters participating in public dove hunts on DNR Wildlife Management Area dove fields should be aware of special regulations in place on these fields. No entry is allowed on public fields before noon. Hunters will be restricted to 50 shells per hunt on all Wildlife Management Area public dove fields, and shooting hours will end at 6 p.m. on all public fields during the first segment of the South Carolina dove season (Sept. 3–Oct. 8).
Individuals who plan to hunt on public dove fields will need a South Carolina hunting license and a Wildlife Management Area permit. Also, all persons hunting migratory birds (including doves) are required to have a migratory bird permit. Migratory bird permits can be obtained free-of-charge at all hunting and fishing license vendors.