“Many WMAs provide fields managed specifically for dove so there is no lack of opportunity for desired locations,” said John W. Bowers, chief of Game Management, in a release. “Opening day typically is fun-filled, as many hunts involve cookouts and lots of activity, making it a great time to introduce family and friends to hunting.”
Many WMA public dove fields are reserved solely for quota hunts on opening day. Review dove hunting rules and regulations to ensure the availability of the field you plan to visit.
The official 2013-2014 dove seasons are Sept. 7-22, Oct. 12-20 and Nov. 28-Jan. 11. Shooting hours are noon until sunset on opening day and one-half hour before sunrise to sunset for the remainder of the season dates. Sunrise and sunset times for each day are found in the 2013-2014 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide or online at www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations.
DNR Cpl. Byron Young said several non-fatal shooting incidents occurred on Bartow County dove fields last season.
With more than 1,000 dove hunters in the county, Young urged safety as the season begins.
The daily bag limit is 15 doves per hunter. White-winged doves may be harvested, but count toward the daily bag limit of 15.
Any autoloading or other repeating shotgun must be plugged to hold no more than three shotshells while hunting doves. As always, hunters must obtain permission from landowners before hunting on private property. Please respect the land by cleaning up spent shells, leaving gates the way they were found and removing all trash.
Dove hunters 16 years of age and older must possess a Georgia hunting license and a free Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit. When hunting on a WMA, you also must possess a WMA license. Hunters may purchase licenses online at www.georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes.com, by phone at 1-800-366-2661 or at more than 800 license agent locations.
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 by calling 1-800-327-BAND.
Before hunting that dove field, you need to know whether or not that field is legal. How can you make sure? Check out the online brochure “Dove Hunting and Agricultural Practices in Georgia,” available at www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/dovebrochure.
Baiting is the illegal practice of intentionally luring doves to a field by placing grain or feed. Federal and state laws prohibit hunting migratory game birds over such areas.
“Hunters need to know the difference between ‘baiting’ and ‘recommended agricultural practices,’” said Col. Eddie Henderson, chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “Hunters need to make sure that the fields they are hunting have been prepared in a manner consistent with official agricultural recommendations relative to planting dates, planting methods and rates of application.”
The brochure explains the legalities of dove fields, provides strategies for legally attracting doves, answers common questions and contains additional information for dove hunters.
Designed by the Wildlife Resources Division in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension Service, the brochure is available on the Wildlife Resources Divisions website at www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/dovebrochure.
For more information on dove hunting rules and regulations, public dove fields and conditions, or adult/child dove hunts, hunters should review the 2012-2013 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide, available at www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations or at any Wildlife Resources Division Game Management office. For more information on dove fields, call 770-918-6416.
Hunter education courses available
Do you need the hunter education course before dove season arrives? The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division offers three ways to make that happen: the 10-hour traditional classroom course or an eight-hour online course followed by a two-hour review.
“Because of the importance of the information learned in a hunter education course, our agency has made efforts to meet the needs of many users,” said Walter Lane, hunter development program manager with the Wildlife Resources Division. “The online courses offer more scheduling flexibility as they can be done at any time of day. And for those who prefer a traditional method, the classroom courses provide a face-to-face opportunity with instructors.”
The classroom course is free of charge. The three available online courses each require a fee — from $9.95 to $24.95 — but all are “pass or don’t pay” courses. Fees for these courses are charged by and collected by the independent course developer. If the online course vendor fees are an obstacle, students can obtain a CD-ROM by contacting their local DNR law enforcement office.
Completion of a hunter education course is required for any person born on or after Jan. 1, 1961, who:
• purchases a season hunting license in Georgia.
• is at least 12 years old and hunts without adult supervision.
• hunts big game (deer, turkey, bear) on a wildlife management area.
The only exceptions include any person who:
• purchases a short-term hunting license, such as the Apprentice License or the three-day Hunting and Fishing Combo License (as opposed to a season license).
• is hunting on his or her own land, or that of his or her parents or legal guardians.
For more information, go to www.gohuntgeorgia.com/hunting/education or call 770-761-3010.