Let the games begin; Hunting seasons open

Two of the varieties of doves, mourning doves and white-winged doves, are legal when season opens September 7. (Photo by Glynn Harris)

It was back in May that we reluctantly bid adieu to hunting seasons 2018-19. Last season started for me with a whimper with doves. I sat alone in a field a friend had given me permission to hunt. There was probably a good reason I was the only one out that day. Except for a couple of high fliers, there were no doves.

Next, things looked up just a bit when I watched a few squirrels bite the dust, eventually winding up in a mulligan.

Next came deer season. Thankfully, I had venison left over in the freezer from the previous year because I came up empty handed this past season.

I didn’t hunt ducks or geese or quail or rabbits and as the seasons began to wind down, wild turkeys were my last chance at redemption. They shunned me on my hunting club but I had one of the most rewarding turkey seasons ever when I mentored my son-in-law, a novice turkey hunter, and was able to guide him to his downing his first gobbler.

Then it was summer and fishing and here we are on the doorsteps of September when it all kicks off again.

I have an invitation for an opening day dove hunt and even if I come home empty handed again, just being out there will be a rewarding experience.

Here’s the skinny on the upcoming dove season in our part of the state, the North zone. Season is split into three segments and hunters accustomed to including Labor Day in the hunt will be disappointed again. Because of the calendar, season can’t open the Saturday before Labor Day since that particular Saturday falls in August and the rules say that dove season can not open before the first day of September. Opening day, then, will be the Saturday after Labor Day. North zone season dates are September 7-29; October 12-November 17 and December 28-January 26.

As a solace, hunters can hit the fields and shoot doves opening morning from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Exceptions to this rule are for hunters on wildlife management areas, and fields leased by the LDWF for dove hunting. Opening day hunting on these areas begins at noon.

The next question dove hunters need to consider is what sort of doves are legal to shoot. First of all, the daily bag limit is 15 with possession limit of 45. The main targets, of course, will be those we see the most by far – mourning doves. Should you happen to have a white-winged dove zip by, they’re legal as well.

There is no limit on two other species of doves, the Eurasian collared dove and ringed turtle doves. However, there is a kicker. In order for these two species to be in the “no limit” category, a fully feathered wing and head must remain attached. Otherwise, these birds are considered part of the 15 day bag limit.

Once dove season is underway, it’s time to set our sights on other seasons lying just ahead in Area 2.

For instance….

DEER – Archery – 10/1/19 – 1/31/20; Primitive Firearms – 10/19-10-25/19; 1/3/20 – 1-19/20 Gun (Still hunt only) – 10-26 – 12/3/19; Gun (With our without dogs) – 12/4/19 – 1/12/20.

SQUIRREL/RABBIT – 10-5/19 – 2/29/20

QUAIL – 11/26/19 – 2/29/20

WILD TURKEY (AREA A) – 4/4/20 – 5/3/20

Check back later for waterfowl hunting dates.

Looks like our plates are getting full for something area hunters look forward to every year, hunting seasons 2019-20 are all set to kick off. Practice safety and good luck.


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