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Dove season opens Saturday

Georgia’s dove hunting season opens Saturday at 12:01 p.m. The dove opener traditionally kicks off the fall hunting season. ’Dove season is a fantastic reason to introduce someone new to hunting. It brings a lot of joy to participants and is a great kick off to the fall hunting season,’ said John W. Bowers, of DNR’s game management. ‘Georgia has more than 50 public dove fields, including opportunities on private land made available to the public through a new USDA habitat incentive program.’ The 2017-2018 dove seasons are Sept. 2-17, Oct. 14-Nov. 2 and Nov. 23 – Jan. 15. Shooting hours are noon until sunset on opening day (Sept. 2) and one-half hour before sunrise to sunset for the remainder of the season dates. Dove hunters 16 years of age and older must possess a Georgia hunting license and a Georgia migratory bird stamp. This stamp is required for all migratory bird hunters (doves, ducks, geese, woodcock, snipe, coots, rails, or gallinules), even if a hunting license is not required. Use of the stamp is how Georgia participates in the federal harvest information program. Some licenses allow the holder to get the stamp at no cost. Stamps are only valid for a single season (March to February). Hunters must obtain a new stamp each season. Hunters may purchase licenses online at georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes, by phone at 1-800-366-2661 or at license vendor locations. More Dove Season Tips and Information: The daily bag limit is 15 doves per hunter. Collared doves may be taken and do not count toward your daily limit.  Any auto-loading or other repeating shotgun must be plugged to hold no more than three shot shells while hunting doves.  And, as always, hunters must obtain permission from landowners before hunting on private property.  In 2003, the U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Research Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with several states, including Georgia, initiated an ongoing dove banding project.  Hunters can participate in this conservation effort by examining harvested doves for leg bands and reporting band numbers to the USFWS at reportband.gov. If you are hunting on private land, beware of baited fields. If at all possible, walk the field before shooting it. Baiting controversies most often arise out of what is or is not a ‘˜normal agricultural practice’. A ‘˜normal’ practice or operation is one conducted in accordance with official recommendations of state extension specialists. In Georgia, these are extension service agronomists, not the county extension agent. Agricultural lands often provide excellent dove hunting opportunities. The key to hunting doves legally in Georgia is understanding the differences between ‘˜baiting’ and ‘˜normal agricultural operation’. Baiting is the practice of directly or indirectly placing, exposing, depositing, distributing, or scattering salt, corn, wheat, or any other grain or feed that could serve as a lure or attraction for doves to, on, or over any areas where hunters are attempting to take them. Dove hunting regulations are part of the federal migratory bird treaty act. Hunting doves over baited areas is illegal. A person is guilty of hunting over bait if he or she knows, or reasonably should know, that an area was baited. Furthermore, the person who places bait, or directs the placement of bait on or near a hunted area, is guilty of baiting. Any baited area remains baited for 10 days following the complete removal of any salt, corn, wheat or any other grain or feed which constitutes bait. Dove hunting over or near a baited area an any time within 10 days after the bait is completely removed is a violation. If you have any doubt about whether or not the field you are on is baited, you should consider leaving rather than getting cited by DNR.

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