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Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014

The ins and outs of dove hunting

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

SIKESTON -- The traditional Sept. 1 dove season opener is almost upon us. Questions are starting to generate in the minds of hunters and I am receiving an abundant number of calls on what's legal and what's not for dove season.

The mourning dove is North America's No. 1 game bird. In Missouri, it is legal to take mourning doves, white wing doves and Eurasian collard doves. A person can only take 12 in a combined total of all three species. For example, you can go out and shoot eight mourning doves, two white wings and two collard doves. This would make a limit of 12 and conclude that day's hunt.

Mourning doves are a national resource that is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, as are ducks, snipe, geese, swans and other migratory birds. Each year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimate the number of doves in the U.S. and establish hunting guidelines accordingly. States, such as Missouri, then establish hunting seasons based on these federal guidelines.

Federal regulations state that "No person shall take migratory game birds by the aid of baiting, or on, or over any baited area."

Baiting is defined as "the direct or indirect placing, exposing, depositing, distributing or scattering of salt, grain or other feed that could serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds to, on, or over areas where hunters are attempting to take them."

Areas where these activities have occurred are considered baited and remain so for 10 days following the complete removal of the bait source.

Doves can be hunted over standing crops, flooded standing crops, flooded harvested croplands and in areas where grain is found solely as the result of normal agriculture planting and harvesting. Normal agriculture planting and harvesting includes many factors such as the timing of planting or harvest, seeding rates and methods, harvest methods and equipment used.

Questions about what constitutes normal agricultural planting or harvesting practices should be addressed to your local state extension specialists of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Doves and other migratory game birds, except waterfowl, can be hunted on or over lands where grains, salt or other feed have been distributed as the result of bona fide agriculture operations. They also can be hunted on or over lands where a crop was grown and manipulated for wildlife management purposes.

Crop manipulation, in this case, does not include distributing or scattering grain or feed after it has been removed from or stored (grain bin or farm equipment) on the field where grown. Manipulation for wildlife management purposes, such as hunting, includes techniques like mowing, shredding, discing, rolling, chopping, trampling, flattening, burning or treatment with herbicides. Natural vegetation can also be manipulated for all migratory game birds in these manners.

Federal and state regulations for dove hunters prohibit shotguns that hold more than three shells, live decoys, electronic calls, use of motor vehicles, baiting or the take or attempt to take wildlife from or across public roadways by a hunting method. For all dove regulations, please obtain a copy of the 2006 Migratory Hunting Digest.

Other than regulations, hunters must also keep in mind several other factors. Always obtain the landowners permission, properly identify your target and make use of all harvested birds. All hunters should follow basic gun handling rules and obey simple safety guidelines, including not hunting close to livestock, residential areas, occupied buildings and don't shoot at low-flying birds.

Hunters should remember that it is your responsibility to understand these regulations and know whether or not an area is baited. Remember special regulations apply on many conservation areas. These regulations can be obtained by calling conservation agent Leother Branch at 573-471-5737.