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August 12, 2008

Fifty-one fields available for public dove hunting

Fifty one public dove fields will be available across the state during the 2008-09 season through the S.C. Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Management Area program.

The 2008-09 mourning dove season will run as follows: Sept. 1-6 (noon until sunset); Sept. 7-Oct. 4; Nov. 22-29; and Dec. 19-Jan. 15. Legal hunting hours for mourning dove season, except for Sept. 1-6, are from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset. For the 2008-09 mourning dove season, the daily bag limit is increased from 12 birds per day to 15 birds per day. This change is based on extensive analysis and recommendations from dove biologists from eastern states striving for a consistent mourning dove season and bag limit throughout the Eastern Management Unit (EMU). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurred with the increased bag limit and it is available for the 2008-09 dove season.  Prior to this change, states in the EMU had an option of a 12-bird bag limit with a 70-day season or a 15-bird bag limit with a 60-day season. Some states in the EMU had previously selected the 15 bird/60 day option, and others (including SC) had selected 12 birds/70 days. 

Hunters are reminded that mourning dove season will open this year on Monday, Sept. 1. Dove season traditionally opens on either the first Saturday in September or on Labor Day, whichever comes first. Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, seasons for migratory game birds cannot begin before Sept. 1. The state’s mourning dove season is set each year by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Board within a framework of regulations and timetables issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The number of hunters will be limited by a public drawing on three fields, the Evans Property field in Anderson County, the Draper Tract in York County, and Donnelly Wildlife Management Area in Colleton County.  Hunting and hunter placement on all other public fields is on a first-come basis, beginning at noon.

For more information on the application process for these hunts, contact the DNR Clemson office at (864) 654-1671, extension 16 (Evans Property), the DNR Unit 2B office at (864) 427-5140 (Draper Tract), or the Donnelly Wildlife Management Area office at (843) 844-8957.

A county-by-county list of public dove fields and special youth hunts can be obtained by writing: DNR, Attn: Public Dove Fields, PO Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202, or by calling (803) 734-3609 in Columbia. The Public Dove Field List is also available at County Extension Service offices, Soil and Water Conservation District offices, local DNR offices.

Hunters participating in public dove hunts on DNR Wildlife Management Area dove fields should be aware of special regulations in place on these fields. Hunters may not take shooting positions on public fields before noon. Hunters will be restricted to 50 shells per hunt on all Wildlife Management Area public dove fields, and shooting hours will end at 6 p.m. on all public fields during the first segment of the South Carolina dove season (Sept. 1-Oct. 4).

A limited number of openings are available on eight special youth dove hunts scheduled for Abbeville, Newberry, Oconee, Orangeburg, Pickens, Sumter, Union and York counties. Participants are selected by pre-registration or drawing for all youth hunts with the exception of the Orangeburg County youth hunt, which has no pre-registration requirement.

Individuals who plan to hunt on these public fields will need a South Carolina hunting license and a Wildlife Management Area permit. Also, all persons hunting migratory birds (including doves) are required to have a migratory bird permit. Migratory bird permits can be obtained free-of-charge at all hunting and fishing license vendors.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina's natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state's natural resources and its people.


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