2007-08-30 / Sports

Hunters prepare for opening of dove season September 1

Hunters across the state eagerly await the opening day of dove season, reminiscing on childhood memories of their first dove hunt during a full-day tailgating party with family and friends, and anticipating sharing this tradition with their children and grandchildren.

Beginning at noon on Saturday, Sept. 1, hunters statewide can celebrate the season opener. A highly social affair, dove season is traditionally seen as the kick-off to Georgia's fall hunting season and serves as a great opportunity to introduce youth to the hunting tradition.

Before heading out to one of the state's Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) for opening day, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) reminds all hunters to review the important rules and regulations regarding dove hunting.

"Georgia has some fantastic public opportunities for dove hunters, 37 WMAs across the state to be exact, have been managed to provide dove hunting opportunity," says WRD Assistant Chief of Game Management John Bowers. "In addition to being the 'kickoff' to the fall hunting season, dove hunting is a prime opportunity to introduce family and friends to hunting, as it is typically a fun-filled day."

Doves are the number one migratory game bird harvested in the nation, and with good reason - dove hunts offer an abundance of action with lots of shooting in a familyfriendly atmosphere. Many Georgians choose to tailgate and barbeque all afternoon, enjoying the time outdoors with family and friends.

The official 2007-2008 season runs Sept. 1-15, Oct. 6-15 and Nov. 22, 2007 - Jan. 5, 2008. Updated for 2007, the 'Dove Hunting and Agricultural Practices in Georgia' pamphlet is full of pertinent information for hunters and landowners alike and is now available at www.gohuntgeorgia.com.

Hunters should be sure to observe the following regulations when dove hunting:

.. Sportsmen and women over the age of 16 must possess a Georgia hunting license and a free Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program Permit (HIP Permit) to hunt doves. Those hunting on a WMA also must possess a WMA license. Hunters may purchase licenses at over 1,000 license agents or on the Internet at www.gohuntgeorgia.com.

.. Shooting hours are noon until sunset on opening day of first (Sept. 1) and second (Oct.7) seasons, and one-half hour before sunrise to sunset for the remainder of the season. The sunrise and sunset times for each day can be found on page 43 of the 2007-2008 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide or on the WRD website at www.gohuntgeorgia.com.

.. The daily bag limit is 12 doves per hunter.

.. Any autoloading or other repeating shotgun must be plugged to hold no more than three shotshells while hunting doves.

.. Hunters are reminded to obtain permission from landowners before hunting on private property and should be sure to treat all land with respect; clean up spent shells, leave gates the way they were found and remove all trash.

Doves are the number one migratory game bird harvested in the nation. Successful management of this renewable natural resource is facilitated by updated and accurate harvest rate estimates. 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 actively participate in this significant conservation effort by examining harvested doves closely for bands, and most importantly report band numbers to the USFWS by calling 1-800-327- BAND (2263).

For more information on dove hunting rules and regulations, public dove fields and conditions, or adult/child dove hunts, hunters should review the 2007-2008 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide, available at www.gohuntgeorgia.com or call a WRD Game Management Office.

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