Kentucky dove season opens Sept. 1 and there should be plenty of birds
Sept. 1 marks the opening day of dove season in Kentucky. It’s a day anxiously awaited by bird hunters, and also ammunition manufacturers.
Doves are fun to hunt, good to eat, and the weather usually is good, However, they aren't’ easy targets. They zig, they zag, and hunters should have an ample supply of shells on hand.
Most of the birds available during early dove season are those that stay in the area throughout the year. It takes a cold snap up north to push migrating birds into the state later in fall.
In Kentucky, dove season opens on Labor Day, Sept. 1 statewide. This season, hunters have an additional 20 days to pursue doves, with most of those days scheduled for the last two segments of the season. The opening segment of dove season closes Oct. 26. Dove season opens again Nov. 27 and closes Dec. 7. The third segment opens Dec. 20 and closes Jan. 11, 2015.
“The crops are on time and on schedule and everything is teed up and ready for dove season,” said Rocky Pritchert, migratory bird coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, in a news release issued by the department.
“The outlook for dove season is positive. The habitat is looking really good,” he said.
Pritchert reports seeing early silage and tobacco harvest, which is a good sign for the upcoming season. “The one negative may be with the habitat so abundant, birds may be less likely to concentrate,” he said. “Whenever you have an abundance of habitat, the birds could spread out after opening day to areas undisturbed by hunting.”
The public dove hunting fields on both private lands and on department wildlife management areas are in great shape for the upcoming season, Pritchert said.
Fields on private land open to public hunting on Sept. 1 and close Sept. 2 through Sept. 5 and open again on Sept. 6 (fields hosting mentor/youth dove hunts don’t open to public hunting until Sept. 6).
Dove fields on wildlife management areas open to public hunting Sept. 1, but those hosting mentor/youth hunts open to public hunting Sept. 2. All of the public dove fields on private lands close to hunting Oct. 24.
Consult the 2014-2015 Kentucky Dove Hunting Guide available online at fw.ky.gov for a list of public dove fields. Printed versions of the guide will be available in a few days wherever hunting licenses are sold.
Scout the dove fields you plan to hunt, whether public or private, before the season. Study how doves enter the field. “Look for any tree lines, power lines, fence lines or brush lines doves are using for flyways,” Pritchert said. “Position yourself along those flight lines. Place your back to the sun so you are not looking into it.”
Pritchert also recommends finding a position in the dove field with some sort of backdrop. “You don’t want to be silhouetted on an open hillside,” he said. “Find cover or a rise behind you.”
A 12 or 20-gauge shotgun loaded with shotshells containing No. 7 1/2 or No. 8 shot work well for doves.
After opening weekend, hunting pressure often causes doves to change their behaviors and they don’t come to prepared fields with the same frequency. “Silage or harvested corn fields are good places to start later in the season,” Pritchert said. “Also, farm ponds can be really good late in the day when doves are coming for water.”
Target these areas in the additional days afforded during the second and third segments of dove season. “Those last two segments can be great hunting,” Pritchert said. “There are still a lot of doves in the state in late November, December and January.”
In addition to a valid Kentucky hunting license, dove hunters also need a Kentucky migratory game bird – waterfowl hunting permit. The bag limit is 15 doves per day.