SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. – Dove hunters have more opportunities to take to the field in October and November, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD). Dove fields will be available Oct. 8-28, and again Nov. 24 – Jan. 13.
“Dove hunters ready to harvest more birds can look forward to these later season dates,” said Tina Johannsen, Program Operations Manager with WRD Game Management. “While predicting the pattern of migratory birds can be difficult, the fields look good and the dry weather has kept seed in good condition on the ground. If they are able, we encourage hunters to scout two or three fields during the week for birds, then hunt there on Saturday.”
Georgia has approximately 40 state public dove fields, plus opportunities on private land available to the public through a U.S. Department of Agriculture program called the Voluntary Public Access (VPA)/Habitat Incentive Program. Be sure to check out available dates of the dove field you plan to hunt before visiting.
Regulations quick review: The daily bag limit is 15 doves per hunter. Collared doves may be taken, but do not affect the count of your daily limit. Any autoloading or other repeating shotgun must be plugged to hold no more than three shotshells while hunting doves.
Dove hunters 16 years of age and older must possess a Georgia hunting license and a free Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit. HIP provides biologists with needed information to ensure conservation of migratory bird populations while providing quality hunting opportunities. When hunting on a WMA, you also must possess a WMA license. Hunters may purchase licenses online at www.georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes, by phone at 1-800-366-2661 or at license vendor locations (list of vendors available online).
Updated and accurate harvest rate estimates facilitate the successful management of doves. In 2003, the U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Research Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in cooperation with several states, including Georgia, initiated an ongoing dove banding project. Hunters can participate in this conservation effort by examining harvested doves for leg bands and reporting band numbers to the USFWS at www.reportband.gov or by calling 1-800-327-BAND.
WRD is interested in leasing agricultural crop fields for public dove hunting, and possibly other types of hunting and outdoor recreation. Private landowners that enroll in the program are eligible for a negotiable lease rate and are provided with a legal agreement giving maximum liability protection. More information available at www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/resources/VPAHIP.
Planning on dove hunting at a private field? Be sure that field is legal. How to know? Check out the online brochure, “Dove Hunting and Agricultural Practices in Georgia,” available at www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/dovebrochure.