According to Billy Dukes, SCDNR’s small-game specialist, dove hunters who decide to take advantage of South Carolina’s late season should find plenty of birds, just like they have the past few years. The big factor is being mobile.
“Our late seasons can offer dove hunters the opportunity to do just as well as they do during opening weekend,” Dukes said, “if hunters are willing to do a little scouting.”
“We get more migratory birds later in the season, but they comprise a small percentage of our total flocks,” he said. “Most of our doves are local birds, and we have seen good flocks of local doves this year.”
Dukes said the distribution of doves across the state is pretty even, but that it may appear that planted dove fields in the Upstate hold more birds.
“When you get down below Columbia, there is more availability of agricultural foods, so it makes congregating doves into one area harder to do,” he said. “Whether the prospective hunter is hunting one of our public dove fields or a private area managed for doves, it’s beneficial to know what’s planted and when it’s likely to mature. That goes a long way in dictating when doves are likely to be using the field.”
Dukes suggests that hunters contact local biologists to find out what types of foods have been planted and when they expect them to mature on public dove fields. An alternative for private-land hunters is to keep watch for increased activity, as doves may move into a field in large numbers, use the field for a few days, then move on.
“Hunters need to plan to lay eyes on the field they intend to hunt and be mobile enough to get there and hunt within a few days if they find a field that doves are using” he said.