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Dove season expands; early migratory dates set

DovesWEBWingshooters in the state of South Carolina have a double-barreled excuse to welcome the 2014 hunting season. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages regulations for migratory birds that travel across multiple states, and they have added twenty more days to dove hunting season! The increase was approved by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and will provide more days in the field for those who love the camaraderie of dove hunting.

The second piece of good news from the feds involves the bag limit for early teal season, with an increase from four teal per day to six teal per day for waterfowl hunters. These blue-winged teal are the first ducks to migrate south and generally will be in the coastal impoundments of the Lowcountry and other duck ponds during the month of September. Teal are small birds and the increased opportunity to target just a couple more of them can serve to keep wingshooting skills sharp.

Dove season is increased from 70 days in 2013 to 90 days during the 2014 – 2015 season. The traditional opening day remains set for September 1 and the early season runs until October 11. Remember that during the first days of the hunting season, until Sept. 6, the legal shooting hours for doves is only from noon until sunset. The next dove season dates are set for November 15 – 29 and December 13 through January 15. Legal hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset, and the daily bag limit remains 15 doves per day.

SCDNR also has made a variation in legal hunting practices over fields that have been top sown with wheat. Using Clemson Extension Service Guidelines, it is now possible to practice top sowing of wheat from Oct. 1 – Nov. 30 when spreading seed evenly on a well-prepared seed bed established by heavy tilling. Special spreading rates apply, and piling of seed can still result in a baited field, so be sure to check with your local Extension office about how to stay legal.

Goose getters will also return to the field in September for the early season on Canada geese which runs from September 1 – 30. Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset and the daily bag limit is 15 geese. Goose hunters will need a valid hunting license in addition to a migratory bird permit, state waterfowl permit and a federal duck stamp. Specialized load and shot-size are also required, so be sure to read all SCDNR regulations carefully.

Early teal season hunters will need all of the same license and shot requirements, plus they have a different legal shooting time which runs from sunrise until sunset. Category II waterfowl areas on SCDNR lands are open for public hunting during early teal and goose seasons. All possession limits for the migratory bird season will now be three times the daily bag limit.

If you are still looking for a place to hunt come opening day for doves and duck, C.E. Farms on Edisto Island is presently offering memberships. Chad Fisk comes from a farming family and he takes great care in planting the fields of food that attract migratory birds. He can be reached at 843-509-9814. Not everyone will flood their duck ponds for early season hunts, but Fisk’s 20-acre impoundment is a teal season mainstay.

Another early hunting season announced by SCDNR is the two-part marsh hen season which begins September 8 – 12. The daily bag limit for king and clapper rails is 15 per day and shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset. The daily limit for sora and Virginia rails is 25 birds per hunter. The second season for marsh hens runs from October 6 through December 9, and hunter success usually coincides with the time of flood tides in the spartina marsh.

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com


Jeff Dennis, Contributor (380 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com