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Dove season opens with bang, continues all month

 

A dove hunter admires a brace of doves on opening day at Edisto Island.

The holiday weekend of Labor Day is also the traditional opening weekend of dove season, which continues until October 6. Those holding a dove hunt for family and friends can pick whether they want to shoot for the first time on Saturday or wait until Labor Day. The blueprint for success usually includes fellowship and a meal, some discussion of football season, and of course trying to pick up a limit of 15 doves.The opening day of dove season is respected by wing-shooters as the first time in several months to take aim at a feathered target. And whether you started dove hunting at a young age with your father like I did or are completely new to the sport, it is relatively easy to find some recreational enjoyment during an afternoon dove hunt.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources rules stipulate that, during the first three days of the season during the Labor Day holiday, only afternoon hunting is allowed for doves. The remainder of the dove season hunting is allowed from thirty minutes before sunrise until sunset. The Labor Day weekend rules can make for some really hot hunting conditions, which is a part of the opening day tradition that outdoorsmen are willing to accept.

Fortunate to be hunting on Edisto Island on September 1, the weather was clear and the sunshine made for temperatures in the 90’s out in the field. The hunt for that day began at 3 p.m. as young and old carried their guns, shotgun shells, dove stool and dogs into the open. In strenuous conditions such as these, sportsmen know to apply sunscreen to exposed skin and to drink plenty of water. The hunt host usually rides an ATV through the field during the hunt to make sure that no one is without water.

This opening day dove hunter can report only moderate action since the doves chose not to fly much before the traditional 6 p.m. ending time. Migratory doves are subject to change their location at any time, and dove field managers on Edisto report that the rain and low pressure associated with Hurricane Isaac may have caused the doves to move around only days before their first hunts. This is only natural, but it can be frustrating for those who spend months planning the hunt.

My opening day harvest of five birds included a trophy in the form of a dove with a federal leg band. Some may ask, “what’s that?” Migratory birds with bands on their legs are a way for federal science managers to keep a database on species, including ducks, geese, doves and more. In this case, the dove was captured in a net at some point (likely in S.C.) and a leg band was attached to it. The band is allocated with an ID number and a phone number to report the information.

Once the ID number is reported, the federal government program will supply the hunter with the date and location that the bird was banded. Hunters are naturally curious about where their winged quarry traveled from, and the anticipation of waiting to hear helps to extend the excitement of the hunt. Just like being in the dove field and talking with friends, this information is fun for all to share in.

With five more weekends left in the first leg of the 2012 dove season, there is plenty of time to get into a dove field. Not having a place to hunt can be an issue for some, so don’t forget to utilize the SCDNR public dove field hunts, which are designed to help people enjoy the outdoors. Colleton County has public dove fields at the Donnelly Wildlife Management Area near Green Pond and at the Botany Bay WMA on Edisto Island.

 

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

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (345 Posts)

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