Opening day of dove season a communal event

Georgia’s dove season gets off to a rather late start this year. Opening day is the first Saturday in September, which falls on Sept. 6. The delay likely will have the state’s wingshooters even more anxious than usual to hit the fields this year.

Mourning doves are by far the most popular small-game species for hunters in the state. Opening day for doves also is considered the kickoff of the fall hunting seasons. It’s a day filled with southern traditions of barbecue, sweet tea and camaraderie. The season begins at noon, and many hunts start off with a communal lunch before heading to the fields.

“While we encourage taking along someone new on any hunting trip, the opening day of dove season typically provides such a fun atmosphere that everyone will have a great time,” said John Bowers, chief of game management for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

A typical dove shoot involves groups of hunters surrounding recently harvested grain fields. The idea is to ambush the birds as they fly into the field to feed. That’s no easy task because doves have erratic flight patterns and can reach speeds of 55 mph. If the bird escapes the first shot, it will turn on the proverbial after burners, making it an even tougher target.

The first obstacle for many hunters is finding a field on which to shoot.

“Many wildlife-management areas have fields managed specifically for doves making it easier to find a place to go,” Bowers said.

Public fields within an hour’s drive of Atlanta are located on Pine Log WMA in Bartow County, McGraw Ford WMA in Cherokee County, and Clybel WMA at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Newton and Jasper counties. The Walton Public Dove Fields in Social Circle also are an option.

Visit georgiawildlife.com/hunting for complete regulations and maps of all WMAs with dove fields.

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Jimmy Jacobs is a freelance writer and fishing reporter for Fox Sports Outdoors on Fox Sports South. Follow him at jimmyjacobsoutdoors.com. He can be contacted at jimmyjacobs@mindspring.com.

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