SIKESTON -- With the end of the Bootheel Rodeo and the beginning of the school year comes another important tradition in Southeast Missouri, the opening of the 2004 dove season.
The season brings in hunters from all over the country. A survey taken early in the year gives us a clear indication that Scott County, along with other Bootheel counties can expect another good season.
The season will be 70 days, starting on Sept. 1 through Nov. 9. The daily limit is 12 and the possession limit is 24. The season shooting hours are 1/2 hour before sunrise and ends at sunset. Hunters may only use shotguns capable of holding three shells or less and, unlike waterfowl, the regulations still allow for use of lead shot if desired.
To hunt doves you will need a small game hunting permit, except landowners hunting on their own property and hunters aged 15 and younger or 65 and older. Also needed is a migratory bird hunting permit, except for those age 15 and under in the immediate presence of a licensed adult or who have successfully completed hunter education. Each individual must keep birds separate and identifiable from the bag limit of other hunters. If birds are given away, they must be labeled with name, address, permit number and date taken.
The Department of Conservation will give hunters other options if one can not land that favorite hunting spot on private land.
The Ten Mile Pond conservation agent (573-649-2770) and Otter Slough agent (573-624-5821) will provide some excellent hunting with over 250 acres of sunflowers planted between the two areas. Growing conditions have been excellent this year, so crops in these areas will be in excellent condition for the dove season opener. Sunflowers will be disked down before Sept. 1 and at intervals after opening day to provide continuous food supplies for doves. Give the agents a call to find out where the "hot spots" are and the special regulations for that area.
It's also a good idea to scout any area you plan to hunt before the season so you can be sure to pick a good, safe spot. Odds are, you won't be the only one out there.
If you have any questions about dove season, go by one of the vendors and pick up a 2004 Migratory Bird Hunting Digest.