Dove Hunting: An Annual Southern Tradition with Increasing Public Access Opportunities

Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator

Highlights

Why it Matters: With family and friends gathering together to enjoy the comradery that dove hunting provides, it supports recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) efforts and provides a positive impact on conservation programs through the American System of Conservation Funding.

In the South, dove hunting traditionally takes place on large agricultural fields. Places that provide food for birds (legally) and plenty of space for hunters to spread out are highly sought after by those wanting to enjoy a great dove hunt. That being said, not everyone has access to privately owned land to hunt. Thankfully, state fish and wildlife agencies across the Southeast invest in providing dove hunting opportunities on private and public lands for their sportsmen and women to enjoy each year.

States such as Alabama, for example, purchase tracts of land near metropolitan areas to provide public hunting access for individuals from urban and suburban areas that may not have access to a privately owned field to dove hunt. While Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) across Mississippi offer public dove fields for hunters, there are a handful that offer youth-only dove hunts, which furthers R3 efforts and ensures that the next generation of sportsmen and women have an opportunity to participate in the sport. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division issues a  Dove Field Forecast to inform hunters on the size of dove fields planted on WMAs, the crops planted, and the expected forecast of the condition of the field once the season opens.

Some conservation non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also offer dove hunting opportunities to build support for the sport, such as the Tennessee Wildlife Federation’s dove hunting classes offered through their Hunting and Fishing Academy.

These examples just go to show that there are opportunities to dove hunt if you do not have access to large, privately owned lands good for dove hunting. Your state fish and wildlife agency and conservation NGOs are making an effort to provide hunting opportunities to the public.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation encourages you to go afield this dove season and to check with your respective state fish and wildlife agency for potential public access hunting opportunities as well as the rules and regulations to ensure that you are following the law.

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Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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