Hunters statewide are celebrating the beginning of dove season, which opened Sept. 3. The long-awaited opening day is traditionally considered the beginning of the fall hunting season.
The numerous hunts scheduled at wildlife management areas provide opportunities to introduce people to the sport.
“Georgia has some fantastic public areas for dove hunters. In fact, many WMAs provide fields managed specifically for dove-hunting opportunities,” said John W. Bowers, Wildlife Resources Division’s assistant chief of game management.
“In addition to being the kickoff to the fall hunting season, dove hunting is a prime time to introduce family and friends to hunting, as it typically is a fun-filled day.”
Most WMA public dove fields are quota only on opening day. As such, hunters are encouraged to review dove hunting rules and regulations to ensure the availability of the fields they plan to visit.
The official 2011-12 dove seasons are Sept. 3-18, Oct. 8-16 and Nov. 24 - Jan. 7.
Shooting hours are noon until sunset on opening day (Sept. 3) of the first season and a half hour before sunrise to sunset for the remaining two seasons.
Sunrise and sunset times for each day are found in the 2011-12 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide or online at www.georgiawildlife.com.
The daily bag limit is 15 doves per hunter. Additionally, there have been some reports of white-winged doves in Georgia. They may be harvested but count toward the daily bag limit of 15.
Any auto-loading or other repeating shotgun must be plugged to hold no more than three shot shells while hunting doves.
As always, hunters must obtain permission from landowners before hunting on private property and should respect the land by cleaning up spent shells, leaving gates the way they were found and removing all trash.
Dove hunters 16 and older must possess a Georgia hunting license and a free Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program Permit. Those hunting WMAs also must possess a WMA license.
Hunters may purchase licenses online at www.georgiawildlife.com, by phone at 800-366-2661 or at a license agent location, which can be found online.
Updated and accurate harvest-rate estimates facilitate the successful management of doves.
As such, the U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Research Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in cooperation with several states, including Georgia, initiated a dove trapping and banding project in 2003.
Hunters can participate in this conservation effort by examining harvested doves for bands and reporting band numbers to the USFWS by calling 800-327-BAND.
For more information, review the 2011-12 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide, available at www.gohuntgeorgia.com or at any Wildlife Resources Division Game Management office.