SIKESTON -- Southeast Missouri is one of the leading dove hunting areas in the United States and this year should continue that tradition.
Corn harvesting seems to be right on target, thus giving doves sufficient enough food to hang around.
The 2006 dove season, like all others, brings family and friends together for a good time and good hunting. 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 the other Bootheel counties, can expect another good season.
The season will be 70 days long, starting on Sept. 1 and running through Nov. 9. The daily limit is 12 and the possession limit is 24. The season shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise and ends at sunset.
You may only use a shotgun capable of holding three shells or less and, unlike waterfowl, the regulations still allow for you to use lead shot, if you desire.
To hunt doves you need a small game hunting permit, except for landowners hunting on their own land, people 15 years of age and younger or 65 and older.
You will also need the migratory bird hunting permit, except for those age 15 and under in the immediate presence of a licensed adult or those age 15 and under who have successfully completed hunter education.
Hunters must keep birds separate and identifiable from the bag limit of other hunters. If doves 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 find that favorite hunting spot on private land. Ten Mile Pond Conservation Area (573-649-2770) and Otter Slough Conservation Area (573-624-5821) will provide for some excellent hunting with over 250 acres of sunflowers planted between the two areas.
Growing conditions have been excellent this year, so crops on 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 conservation areas a call to find out where the "hot spots" are and the special regulations for that area, or look on the web at www.conservation.state.mo.us.
It's also a good idea to scout any area you plan to hunt before the season so you can be sure to pick out a good, safe spot because 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 copy of the 2006 Migratory Bird Hunting Digest.
It that does not help, please contact me, conservation agent Leother Branch, at 573-471-5737.
Be very safe and good luck hunting.