SOCIAL CIRCLE — Opening day of the statewide dove season traditionally is considered the beginning of the fall hunting season.
With numerous wildlife-management area hunts scheduled, it is the perfect opportunity to introduce children and grandchildren to the sport. The Georgia dove season opens at noon Saturday, Sept. 1.
Many WMA public dove fields are reserved for quota hunts on opening day. Hunters should review dove-hunting rules and regulations to ensure the availability of the field they plan to visit. Check out the online brochure “Dove Hunting and Agricultural Practices in Georgia,” available at www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/dovebrochure.
The official 2012-13 dove seasons are Sept. 1-16, Oct. 13-21 and Nov. 22- Jan. 5. Shooting hours are noon until sunset on opening day and one-half hour before sunrise to sunset for the remainder of the dates. Sunrise and sunset times for each day are found in the 2012-13 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide or online at www.georgiawildlife.com.
The daily bag limit is 15 doves per hunter. White-winged doves may be harvested but count toward the daily bag limit of 15. Any autoloading or other repeating shotgun must be plugged to hold no more than three shotshells while hunting doves.
Dove hunters 16 years of age and older must possess a Georgia hunting license and a free migratory bird harvest information program permit. For more information on the HIP permit or the federal program, contact a Wildlife Resources Division Game Management office or call 770-918-6416.
When hunting on a WMA, hunters also must possess a WMA license. Hunters may purchase licenses at www.georgiawildlife.com, 1-800-366-2661 or license-agent locations. The list of agents is available online.
Other material is available to help hunters this season.
The 2012 dove field forecast identifies available crops and anticipates the expected conditions for opening day, noting if fields are in good, poor or fair condition. Those interested can find the information at www.gohuntgeorgia.com.
Hunter education is available by classroom, CD course or online prior to the start of dove season. The classroom course and the CD courses are free of charge. The three available online courses each require a fee, which ranges from $9.95-$24.95, but all are “pass or don’t pay” courses.
Completion of a hunter-education course is required for any person born on or after Jan. 1, 1961, who:
• purchases a season hunting license in Georgia.
• is at least 12 years old and hunts without adult supervision.
• hunts big game (deer, turkey, bear) on a wildlife-management area.
The only exceptions include any person who:
• purchases a short-term hunting license, such as the apprentice license or the three-day hunting and fishing combo license (as opposed to a season license).
• is hunting on his or her own land, or that of his or her parents or legal guardians.
For more information, go to www.gohuntgeorgia.com or call 770-761-3010.