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Arkansas biologists work to prepare public dove fields

LITTLE ROCK – With drying conditions after a mostly rainy August, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife management area personnel have been able to prepare more fields for public dove hunting beginning Sept. 1.

Kevin Ledford at Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms WMA says the wet grounds kept him from getting heavy equipment out until this week for a planned 60 acres of topsown wheat. He’s gotten 40 acres prepared with the wheat for this weekend, with the other 20 waiting until drier conditions prevail.

“We have several doves in the area. We just got our wheat out so the doves haven’t been hammering the plots yet,” Ledford said.

Kevin Lynch, AGFC biologist supervisor in Fort Smith, said that the letup in rain the past week has allowed AGFC personnel to get several fields ready in the west-central portion of the state. “Everything in my region has been or will be completed by dove season except one field on Fort Chaffee,” Lynch said. “They include Nimrod, Frog Bayou, J. P. Mikles SUA, Ozark Lake, Dardanelle and Petit Jean.”

Wedington WMA at Lake Wedington in northwest Arkansas will have about 18-20 acres split among two areas, both planted with sunflowers. The first area is two separate fields on the southwestern portion of the WMA, on the south side of state Highway 16, measuring 10 and 4 acres. “We planted sunflowers in the spring on those fields, but as soon as we did, it got hot and dry and we didn’t get any rain on them,” WMA manager Richard Bowen said. “Those fields were brush-hogged down over the weekend, they were disked and then this week we’re topsowing winter wheat on them.” The other hunting area is south of Lake Wedington with access from Krie Road. Sunflowers were planted along a roadway through this field, and it has been prepared the same as the two other fields, Bowen said. “I expect a decent turnout here this weekend,” Bowen added. “I was out there (Tuesday morning) with the contractor and saw a lot of doves flying around. These fields are on the western end of the WMA with private land next to us where it looks like they are harvesting milo or something that doves would like to eat. This area always seems to be a good area for doves. And this is the first time we’ve topsown with wheat since I’ve been here, so I expect a pretty good weekend.”

All the newly prepared fields bring to 21 the number of WMAs that will offer public dove hunting when the season opens 30 minutes before sunrise Saturday, Sept. 1. The first season runs through Oct. 28 (shooting time ends each day at sunset), and the second season runs Dec. 8-Jan. 15.

Visit www.agfc.com/en/hunting/migratory-birds/dove/ for a complete list of fields and maps as well as more information on public dove hunting. Hunters are advised to call the numbers listed with each area for updated conditions.