Photo by Dan Cook It's often a generational family gathering when dove season opens.
Early-season dove hunters often see native birds rather than those migrating from Wisconsin and elsewhere up North.
And the first week of dove season is when 90 percent of the birds are taken, according to Georgia and Tennessee wildlife agencies. Hunters are eager to get their shotguns out of the racks where they have been since turkey season closed.
The first segment of dove season in Tennessee began Tuesday and runs through Sept. 26. Other segments follow Oct. 10-25 and Dec. 19-Jan. 15.
Dove hunting in Georgia and the North Zone of Alabama opens Saturday. Georgia's first segment ends Sept. 20, followed by Oct. 10-18 and Nov. 26-Jan. 9 segments. Northeastern Alabama's first part ends Oct. 4, with follow-up portions Oct. 24-Nov. 7 and Dec. 12-Jan. 5.
The daily bag limit in all three states is 15.
Biologist Marc Lipner from Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency's Region 3 office in Crossville noted that numerous TWRA-leased fields have been prepared for hunters in Rhea, Meigs and Marion counties. Hiwassee, Yuchi and North Chickamauga wildlife management fields, the latter including the popular Varner tract near Chattanooga, also will be available.
However, it's important for hunters to check www.tennessee.gov/twra/dovefields3.html regularly, Lipner advised, since some late-posted fields likely will be added.
Georgia biologist David Gregory of Crockford-Pigeon Wildlife Management Area, an especially popular dove-hunting spot near LaFayette, said recently the opening days probably would be slow.
"The Blue Hole (one of two fields) is ready to go," he related. "It's had millet on it this summer as well as wheat left over from the spring. During the early season, those are resident birds. That's why we try really hard to provide food for them year-round."
Like Tennessee, the Peach State offers a number of sites for hunters.
"Georgia has some fantastic public areas for dove hunting," said John W. Bowers, the Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Division's assistant chief of game management.
"In addition to being the kickoff for the fall hunting season, dove hunting is a prime time to introduce family and friends to hunting."