For many hunters, the first day of dove season is often also the last day, as they quickly shift their attention to deer and the excellent fishing that September generally provides. While the dove population takes a major hit on Labor Day weekend, the rest of the season shouldn’t be ignored.
The best dove hunts always begin with a solid food source, from native grasses and forbs to carbohydrate-rich grains in agriculture fields.
But it takes more than just a see buffet to have a good dove hunt. Where there is strategy to tag a Boone & Crockett buck, dove hunters have proven tactics they can utilize to get a quick 15-bird limit for the crock pot.
With an estimated population of 275 million in North America, the mourning dove is one of the most-abundant and recognizable birds in the land. In the South, Labor Day weekend brings hunters from all walks of life into fields for the opening day of the dove season.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission invites citizens to provide input on the upcoming migratory game bird hunting seasons through an online comment system on the agency’s website. Comments are submitted by going to www.ncwildlife.org and clicking on the “Migratory Game Bird Proposed Seasons” scrolling icon at the bottom of the page. Migratory game birds include waterfowl, doves, woodcock, rails and snipe. Comments on the season dates will be accepted through Apr. 9.
Dove season begins this month across the south, and the first few days — if not opening day — are the best times to take a limit. So does it work out that way? Is it the timing of the migration, the amount of birds available, or what?
Michael Small, small-game project leader for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, said public dove fields are looking very good for the upcoming season; he expect 44 public fields to be open, with seven more slated for youth hunts.
North Carolinas best public dove fields are mostly in the Piedmont.
The Sandhills Game Land comprises 63,000 acres surrounding the town of Hoffman along US 1 south of Raleigh in Hoke, Moore, Richmond and Scotland counties. It is open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
A lot of hunters enjoy beautifully prepared and managed dove fields because they know landowners who enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of a well-spent Labor Day weekend dove shoot. And a lot have just as much enjoyment hunting on public fields provided by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and S.C. Department of Natural Resources, experiencing the kind of shooting normally reserved for those with access to private land.