Ok guys, it’s that time again. Time to kick off another hunting season. For most guys, that will mean opening day of Dove Season, the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. It’s a great time to dust off the old trusty shotgun, get a camo t-shirt and khaki shorts out of the closet, then pick up a dove stool, a few boxes of shells, a few decoys, some cold beverages and a small cooler to keep them cold, and then, about lunch time, to head on out to the field and see how the birds are flying. Maybe pick up enough of them by evening for a nice dove breast BBQ.
For a lot of guys, they’ll have a private field they normally dove hunt to head to. But for the other guys out there, you’ve got two choices. Option One- to track down a pay-to-hunt field. Those seem a little harder to find these days than a few years back, but they’re out there. Sometimes it’s a farmer with a corn field who will let anyone who approaches him hunt that day for $25. Other times it’s a real production, with a pig-cooking, a well managed field, and a little more organization on who goes where and does what, not to mention some cold brews for once you’re done and tired of sitting in the heat- frequently running $100 to $200 for the day. And then there’s Option Two- GO PUBLIC!!!
The state has a number of WMA’s(Wildlife Management Areas) that are open for dove hunting(see below). You may also find a few doves on National Forests or State Forests. On some of the WMA’s the state actively manages for doves, by planting both large and small food plots in small grain crops that doves love. Frequently finding a nice spot to sit under a shade tree next to one of these plots can yield you some birds. Also anytime a hunter can find himself sitting adjacent to a power line overlooking one of these plots he or she should be in business. Doves are well known for their habit of landing on a power line, or a snag on a tall tree, where they can survey the ground below for predators before making their final descent to feed.
If you arrive to a WMA and the food plots/fields are already filling up with hunters, or with the drought we have suffered in many locations this year, if the crops just don’t look like they have produced, try one other location that has paid off well for me in years past. Find a clear-cut. That’s right, find somewhere on the WMA that has been recently timbered, either this year or last year. Then find a stringy looking tree still standing in the middle of it, or a tall dead tree on the edge of it, and find a seat nearby. In a year when a drought cripples traditional crops, it’s amazing how much seed the “weeds” of a clear cut still produce. And the doves seem to know it!
Good luck! More info on dove season and WMA locations can be found at:
Dove Hunting On Wildlife Management Areas
Dove hunting permitted within the boundaries of the following wildlife management areas: Amelia, Briery Creek, Cavalier, Chickahominy, Dick Cross, Fairystone,
Featherfin, Hardware River, Hog Island (Carlisle Tract only), Horsepen, James River,
Pettigrew, C.F. Phelps, Powhatan, and White Oak Mountain.
First Segment: September 4–October 12
Hours: September 4–10
12:00 noon until sunset.
September 11–October 12
One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.
Hunting permitted on Labor Day, Wednesdays and Saturdays only.
Second Segment: October 20–November 6
Third Segment: December 27–January 8
Hours: One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.
Hunting permitted daily except Sundays.
Bag Limit: 15 per day, 30 in possession.