Public dove fields planned for Sept. 5
Aug. 19, 2020
Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK — The drawing for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s private land dove field program is complete, but if you did not draw there’s still plenty of opportunity to enjoy some time sitting on a bucket at a good location on opening weekend of dove season. The AGFC has dove fields on 22 wildlife management areas throughout the state and has worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide another on the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge for the 2020-21 dove season.
“Most of the fields on public land are going to be prepared with top-sown wheat,” said Garrick Dugger, assistant chief of the AGFC’s Wildlife Management Division. “But we do have some fields where staff pulled off a good crop of sunflowers, millet or sorghum that will be prepared before the opener to try and draw in some birds. We have worked really hard to have opportunities in all four corners of the state as well as Central Arkansas for dove hunting this year.”
Unlike the permit-based draw hunts, dove fields on the AGFC’s WMAs are first-come, first-served. Dugger suggests hunters visit the WMAs they are interested in during the week before their hunt to see how doves are relating to the landscape.
“It’s just like with any hunting, you want to set up where the birds want to go and putting in some scouting time is the key,” Dugger said. “People who are successful on public land aren’t lucky, they’ve put in the time it takes to learn the land and how the birds are using it.”
Lists of WMAs with maps to all planned fields can be found at www.agfc.com/en/hunting/migratory-birds/dove/public-dove-fields. A QR code on each map provides directions to the fields on a smartphone in Google maps. Just scan the code using your smartphone camera and it will automatically load directions.
Hunters should be aware that hunting the Cache River NWR requires a free permit that must be signed and carried with the hunter. Permits are available through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website or at the NWR’s main office at Gregory, near Augusta. Also, only non-toxic shot, such as steel shot, is allowed for hunting in the NWR. Lead shot is acceptable while hunting dove in WMAs, but nontoxic shot is recommended there as well.
“Prices of steel shot have dropped a lot from years ago, and the quality of the shot has improved as well,” Dugger said.
Hunters should continue to check the page where fields are listed as the season draws near. Many fields, especially those planned to be top-sown with wheat, may not be able to be prepared in the case of bad weather.
“We’ll take any fields off that can’t be prepared as soon as we know,” Dugger said. “If anyone has a specific question about a particular field, they can call the regional office for that area from the information at agfc.com.”
The season for mourning dove, white-winged dove and Eurasian collared-dove runs Sept. 5 to Oct. 25, then resumes Dec. 8 through Jan. 15, 2021. The daily limit of mourning and white-winged dove is 15, with a possession limit of 45. There is no daily bag limit or possession limit for Eurasian collared-dove, but they must remain fully feathered in the field and while being transported from the field.
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