When the average person hears about hunting season, their mind automatically goes to deer hunting. The big game steals the spot light about 90 percent of the time. I am going to dim the light on the deer for just a little and give it to the doves.
The dove has a long graduated tail boarded with large white spots attached to a gray-brown body. Its feet can be a dull red or purple and if you get close enough, a male can have purplish or pink feathers on his neck. Chances are if you have gotten this close, you’ve been dove hunting.
To assist in any type of hunting, it is important to learn the animals’ habitat and habits.
According to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the mourning dove is one of the few animals that adapt and benefit from human alterations of habitat. The clearing and cultivation of fields create edges between different habitats. Doves thrive in these edges and are able to exploit large crop fields.
Doves usually fly from their night roost to a watering hole, then shortly after, fly to their feeding grounds. Scouting out these patterns prior to hunting can assist in targeting the flock.
If you do not have your own hunting property, fear not. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune offers the use of dove fields to authorized patrons who have the appropriate hunting licenses.
Hunters have already taken advantage of these fields this past week and few went home empty handed.
“Since the season started on Sept. 2, hunters have harvested 447 doves on base,” said Emily Gaydos, Land and Wildlife Resources biologist. “The Land & Wildlife Resources Section within Camp Lejeune’s Environmental Conservation Branch annually maintains approximately 40 acres of wildlife clearings (food plots) specifically for doves.”
If hunting on base does not appeal to you or if you are not military affiliated, the state provides public dove hunting fields. The locations are listed on the N.C. wildlife website.
North Carolina’s dove seasons ends on Oct. 7 and starts up again Nov. 21. The season has a 15-bird bag limit. Hunting is allowed 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset.
Hunting a different species, creates a whole new experience. Although, nothing compares to the popularity of deer, dove hunting can provide a nice change of pace.
“It involves a lot of shooting and you do not have to sit still and be quite so it is the perfect opportunity to introduce new hunters and kids to the sport,” said Dennis Adams, local hunter. “Additionally, a good dove shoot with a lot of folks is more of a social event than dove hunting because folks spend a lot of time talking with each other and visiting.”
For more information, visit www.ncwildlife.org/Hunting/Migratory-Game-Birds.