Dove Hunting Season Kicks Off Statewide
Labor Day weekend means the unofficial end of summer but it also signifies the start of the hunting season.
Hunters came out to designated Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) on Saturday to kick off the start of dove hunting season. The mourning dove is the most hunted migratory game bird in the state. A recent survey conducted by the Mourning Dove Management said about 60,000 licensed Georgians hunt doves and the statewide annual harvest is about one million.
Dove season is now open statewide to all hunters who have a proper Migratory Bird Hunting license. If people hunt on WMA land, a specific license for those areas is required for any person 16 years or older.Wildlife Management officials said these licenses help wildlife managers monitor the bird population, set hunting seasons, bagging limits and sustain populations.
Once the permits are in place people can start hunting dove 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset. A hunter can bag a total of 15 doves per day. They can also hunt white winged doves but those birds are included with the total daily amount allowed to be hunted.
Any auto loading shotgun must be plugged to hold only three shot shells at a time. The WMA wants hunters to clean spent shells and any trash left behind. Another aspect of hunting doves that hunters need to be aware of is baiting. That is the illegal practice of using feed or grain to lure doves into the field. Wildlife officials said hunters need to make sure fields they're hunting in are consistent with normal agricultural planting and harvesting.
Hunters can start shooting at doves now until September 16. The season will start again Oct. 13-21 and Nov. 22-Jan.5.
Mourning Dove Management said Georgia hunters shoot about 10 percent of the dove population each year. However, they said the population looks healthy and there is a surplus ready for harvest.