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Outdoors

Dove season kicks off Sept. 1

Dove season kicks off Sept. 1

August 06, 2006|by BILL ANDERSON

Dove season is traditionally the first hunting season of the fall and this year is no exception. The Maryland dove season will once again be a split affair with the first segment running Sept. 1-Oct. 14, the second segment Nov. 11-24 and the final segment Dec. 23-Jan. 3, 2007.

Shooting hours are noon to sunset for the first segment. Shooting hours for the rest of the season are one-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

In our area, most of the shooting opportunities in the early portion of the dove season will be for resident birds or birds that have nested in our area. As the season goes on, much of the shooting will be at birds that are migrating through the area to warmer climates.

On a national basis, dove hunting is one of the most popular hunting sports, but still it is only moderately popular in most of our region. On Maryland's Eastern Shore, the sport is much more popular, even though there are more than enough birds locally to present plenty of challenging shooting.

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Most bird hunting authorities consider dove shooting to be the toughest of the wingshooting sports. Doves are very fast fliers and they have the ability to dodge and weave erratically, making for some very tough shooting.

To improve the odds, dove hunters usually use light loads and small shot, which increases the number of pellets in the pattern. If you are like most of us, you will need all that you can get.

The vast majority of hunters prefer to pass shoot when hunting doves. As the name implies, pass shooting means you take up stations near areas where doves fly and then you shoot at them. Most shooters miss a lot more birds than they hit, making the sport a favorite with shotshell manufacturers.

The most popular areas for pass shooting include recently harvested grain fields, watering areas and roosting areas. For many years, some friends and I had great late evening shooting in the early part of the season by setting up in a big pasture field that was filled with cedar trees. I'm sorry to report that that field is now covered with blacktop and office buildings. Doves like to roost in cedar trees. They don't seem to care much for office buildings.

Doves are migratory gamebirds and the season dates and regulations are set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In Maryland, all migratory game bird hunters (including landowners who are license exempt) are required to obtain the Harvest Information Program permit and the Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp in addition to a general hunting license.




Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail.

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