2013 Dove Season in Mississippi

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The first hunt of the year is just around the corner.  Dove season opens in Mississippi on Sunday, September 1, 2013 at 2:00 p.m.  You read that correctly.  The pastors of rural churches can hold their services in peace because there will be no opening morning hunt.

Every year, folks try to evade the baiting laws on dove and every year people get tickets.  If you have to think very hard to justify what you are doing to attract doves, it is likely that your field is illegal.  In the past month, members on various Mississippi hunting forums have expressed opinions or ideas about how to hunt doves.  Those ideas range from good to downright illegal.  One guy mentioned feeding doves by placing tarps containing wheat in the field and removing the tarps the night before the hunt.  That is about as illegal as you can get.  Pursuant to 50 CFR 20.11 (j) an area is considered baited for ten (10) days after all grain is removed.

So exactly what is legal when it comes to hunting doves?  Take a look at 50 CFR 20.11.   I would recommend reading the entire thing, but it that proves difficult for you, at least read this handy synopsis from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  The Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks also has a brochure for dove field preparation.

There are a number of ways that a dove hunter can go astray of the federal rules and any of the following could result in a ticket:

  • placing rock salt out for doves
  • top sewing wheat at rates in excess of a normal agricultural practice
  • scattering shelled or cracked corn
  • hunting an area that was baited within the previous 10 days
  • scattering bird seed for doves

Those are just a few of the ways you could get in trouble.  It is easier to tell you how to legally hunt doves than think of every way to break the law.  For example, you could legally disk the ground and top sow wheat the the normal agricultural rate.  You could plant a wheat field, allow it to head out and then burn it a few weeks prior to season leaving wheat on burned ground.  You could plant sunflowers and begin disking strips to expose sunflower seeds a few weeks prior to the opening day.  Plant and harvest a millet field.  Plant a foodplot for deer at the recommended rate.

Recommended rates and normal agricultural processes are defined in Mississippi by the official publications of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.  Arguing to a wildlife officer that your field isn’t baited because farmer Jim down the road routinely plants wheat at one ton per acre for his cows isn’t going to work.

While you are shooting doves, remember that a dove is not worth shooting someone.  Beware of low birds or you could easily blind someone. Think about how often kids are the ones running out to pick up birds. How would you feel shooting a kid? Let the low birds go. This is particularly important in standing sunflower rows that can hide another hunter.

On a related safety note, take plenty of water in the field for kids and your four legged companions.   Kids and dogs can overheat in the hot sun before you know what happened if you aren’t paying very close attention.  Check out these tips from Sportdog about dogs and dove hunting.

Good luck everyone!

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About randywallace
I am a husband, father, attorney, outdoorsman and cook.

One Response to 2013 Dove Season in Mississippi

  1. Pingback: Looks like a few tickets were handed out | randywallace

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