Hunters - fire up, W.Va. dove season opens soon

August 16, 1998|By BILL ANDERSON / Staff Correspondent

Break out the shotgun and stock up on shells, for the first hunting season of 1998 is nearly here.

Dove season opens on Sept. 1, and reports from bird hunters indicate that the resident population of birds is at least as good as in past seasons.

The West Virginia dove season will once again be a split affair, with the first segment from Sept. 1-Oct. 21 and the second Nov. 16- Nov. 21 and the last Dec. 21-Jan. 2.

On Sept. 1, hunting is legal from noon until sunset. Shooting hours for the rest of the season are one-half hour before sunrise until sunset.


The bag limit is 12 birds per day.

Most dove hunters already know that the early part of the season will be primarily for resident birds that have been in the area all summer.

Prime spots will include recently harvested grain fields and roosting areas.

Dove hunting may be the most under-utilized hunting opportunity in the state.

Big dove hunts, complete with ritual pre-shoot meals, and formal assignment of shooting spots, are a tradition in many southern states and to a lesser degree on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

But the average dove hunter in our area is likely to hunt alone, or in a small party, and target birds that are using the neighborhood cornfield.

Dove shooting is considered one of the toughest of the wingshooting pursuits. Doves not only fly fast, they also dodge and weave erratically, making them quite challenging to hit. As a result, dove hunters use light loads and small shot to increase the number of pellets in the pattern.

Most dove hunters use the pass shooting technique for hunting doves. In pass shooting, you select a stand or shooting station in areas frequented by doves and shoot at them as they pass by. If you are like most of us, a majority of the birds passing by survive and continue on their way.

Good pass shooting stands are at the edge of grain fields and near watering or roosting areas.

Migratory bird hunters have a federally mandated requirement to participate in the National Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program.

A registration form will be available at license agents. The HIP registration process is free.

All hunters must carry the HIP certification in their possession while hunting migratory game birds such as waterfowl, doves or woodcock.

According to the DNR, HIP is a national, cooperative state and federal program to improve the information collected about the harvest of migratory game birds.

Maryland has participated in HIP since 1994. The DNR says that this year, hunting licenses will be issued via an automated license system, and HIP certification will become part of this system.

When you buy your hunting license, you will be asked, "Do you plan to hunt any migratory game birds in Maryland during the upcoming hunting seasons?" If you answer yes, your license will indicate that you are "HIP Certified."

You will then be asked a few simple questions about your hunting success during the last season.

The following are a sample of the HIP questions:

(1) Do you plan to hunt brant this coming hunting season?

(2) About how many of these migratory birds did you bag last season? Ducks, geese, doves, woodcock?

(3) Which of these types of migratory birds did you hunt last season? Sea ducks (oldsquaw and scoters), coots/snipe, rails?

If you are not asked these questions when you buy your license, or if you have additional questions about HIP, please contact DNR HIP coordinator at (301) 842-3355.

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