The 2020-2021 dove season begins on Saturday, Sept. 5, and if you have a dove field where you can hunt doves, I believe you can do it safely without social distancing or wearing a mask. If you have been searching for something to do during this pandemic and you want to stay safe you might spend some time looking for a dove field where you can hunt.
Hunting and fishing are two activities where you can get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors without worrying about catching the virus. Finding a dove field where you can hunt without breaking the bank might take some effort. In addition to fields where you have to pay, the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (GWRD) has numerous dove fields available to the public for hunting.
Unfortunately, many of the GWRD fields are quota hunts and the deadline (Aug. 15) has passed for you to apply for those hunts. However, GWRD has several dove fields at Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) sites and those are not quota hunts and anyone can hunt. Locally those WMA dove fields are located at B.F. Grant WMA (28 acres of sunflower, millet and wheat), Cedar Creek WMA (47 acres of sunflower, millet and wheat) and Clybel (142 acres sunflower and wheat).
I have not hunted doves for several years now but I am still reminded about the many dove shoots I have enjoyed over my lifetime. While growing up in south Alabama, the opening of dove season was a big event every year. It was treated almost like a holiday. Numerous farmers allowed hunters to hunt doves free in their fields. The days of free dove hunts on a private owner’s land is just about unheard of these days and if you want to hunt doves at one of those private hunts, you will have to fork out anywhere from $50 to $300 to hunt on those dove shoots.
As a young boy, stores closed and family and friends gathered at farms across the area to shoot birds. It was truly a family and friends affair, but mostly for the men and the boys. Not too many women and girls were involved in hunting in those days. The ladies were involved primarily in the cooking once the birds had been shot and cleaned.
Times have changed and these days you are apt to see women and young girls show up anytime there is a good dove shoot. Now, don’t get the idea that I have a problem with females hunting, because I don’t at all.
One of my daughters, Cindy, who sadly passed away two years ago, spent many days in a deer stand and tromping in the woods with me. Cindy always fondly remembered those memories and I certainly now cherish those memories. Cindy passed away unexpectedly after a short illness.
I have hunted doves from Florida to Virginia and at each place, I have hunted there have been some lasting memories. The great dove shoots in Virginia with several of my brothers were probably some of the best as far as numbers of birds and the memories those hunts created. A couple of Amish brothers had a farm of several hundred acres of corn and my brothers and I hunted that farm for several years.
The first dove I harvested came when I was 5 years old. A dove lit on a power line, and Daddy gave me his shotgun. I sighted the dove in between the strains of a barbed wire fence and fired. That old 16-gauge shotgun just about knocked me into the ditch but I got my first dove.
The morning dove is the most widespread and abundant game bird in North America. Despite being hunted all across North America, the morning dove remains among the 10 most abundant birds in the United States. The daily limit is 15 doves, and 2020-2021 hunting dates for this year are Sept. 5-30, Nov. 21-29 and Dec. 8-Jan. 31.
Dove season offers a great time to introduce children to the sport of hunting. It is also a great time for fellowship with friends, to have some good food and a great opportunity to create some lasting memories.
See you next week.
Outdoors columnist can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.