SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. -The long-awaited opening day of the statewide dove season traditionally is considered the beginning of the fall hunting season. With numerous wildlife management area (WMA) hunts scheduled, it is the perfect opportunity to introduce children and grandchildren to the sport. The Georgia dove season opens at noon on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012.
“Dove hunters will not lack for fantastic public hunting areas. In fact, many WMAs provide fields managed specifically for dove hunting opportunities,” says John W. Bowers, Wildlife Resources Division’s assistant chief of Game Management. “Opening day typically is fun-filled, as many hunts involve cookouts and lots of activity, making it a great time to introduce family and friends to hunting.”
Many WMA public dove fields are reserved solely for quota hunts on opening day. Review dove hunting rules and regulations to ensure the availability of the field you plan to visit.
The official 2012-2013 dove seasons are Sept. 1-16, Oct. 13-21 and Nov. 22 – Jan. 5. Shooting hours are noon until sunset on opening day (Sept. 1) and one-half hour before sunrise to sunset for the remainder of the season dates. Sunrise and sunset times for each day are found in the 2012-2013 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide or online at www.georgiawildlife.com .
The daily bag limit is 15 doves per hunter. White-winged doves may be harvested, but count toward the daily bag limit of 15.
Any autoloading or other repeating shotgun must be plugged to hold no more than three shotshells while hunting doves. As always, hunters must obtain permission from landowners before hunting on private property. Please respect the land by cleaning up spent shells, leaving gates the way they were found and removing all trash.
Dove hunters 16 years of age and older must possess a Georgia hunting license and a free Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit. When hunting on a WMA, you also must possess a WMA license. Hunters may purchase licenses online at www.georgiawildlife.com , by phone at 1-800-366-2661 or at more than 800 license agent locations (list of agents available online).
Updated and accurate harvest rate estimates facilitate the successful management of doves. In 2003, the U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Research Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in cooperation with several states, including Georgia, initiated an ongoing dove banding project. Hunters can participate in this conservation effort by examining harvested doves for leg bands and reporting band numbers to the USFWS by calling 1-800-327-BAND.
For more information on dove hunting rules and regulations, public dove fields and conditions, or adult/child dove hunts, hunters should review the 2012-2013 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide, available at www.gohuntgeorgia.com or at any Wildlife Resources Division Game Management office.