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Outdoors

A Southern Tradition

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By Jenna Kaye Taylor

Photos by Hunter Forbes

 

As summer ends, hunting seasons quickly approach. Many southerners kick off the unofficial fall season with an annual dove hunt. This is a great way to get family and friends together for a good time. The season began September 23, so if you haven’t begun preparing, now is the time.

 

If you are hunting private land, you want to make sure the doves have a good food source year round. This can be either planted crops or supplemental feeding. If you’re putting feed on the ground, the FWC recommends that you stop feeding 45 days before opening day, since baiting doves is illegal. There should be no grain on the ground in result of an outside source.

 

If you’re hunting public land, you’ll want to ensure that you know all the rules and regulations of the area you’re hunting. A detailed list and map of public ground is listed at myfwc.com/hunting/by-species/dove/map/.

 

Now that you have in mind the spot you’ll be hunting, let’s talk about what you’ll need to bring. Below is a list of things I would recommend toting to your dove spot.

 

Shotgun. A 12 gauge or 20 gauge.

 

Shotgun Shells. Bring a lot. I usually take at least three boxes with me to the field and keep more in the truck. First rule in dove hunting is never run out of shells.

 

Bucket or Small Chair. Buckets are great because you can tote your shells in them. You can also purchase a dove stool that will most likely have an attached zipper pocket to store shells in.

 

MOJO Dove Decoy. Some people swear by these, and others say the doves fly right over and avoid the decoys. I would set it out and see how they respond.

 

Retriever. I highly recommend utilizing a dog to retrieve your birds. You can spend a lot less time looking for birds and more time shooting your limit. This is also a great way to start working with your dog prior to duck season.

 

Cooler. Especially if you’re bringing a dog to retrieve your birds, you’ll want to make sure you bring an adequate amount of water.

 

Below are the 2017 Season Dates and Rules for dove hunting. This year, I challenge you to introduce someone new to hunting. Doves are a great way to start someone out with hunting, as it is much more laid back. Good luck and shoot straight.

 

2017-18 MOURNING AND WHITE-WINGED DOVE SEASON DATES

Phase 1 – Sept. 23-Oct. 23. Shooting hours are noon to sunset.

Phase 2 – Nov. 11-Dec. 4

Phase 3 – Dec. 12-Jan. 15, 2018. Shooting hours for phases 2 and 3 are a half hour before sunrise to sunset. Bag limit (daily/possession) is 15/45.

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