Game Commission provides a lot of opportunity on managed dove fields

When mourning dove season opens Sept. 2, hunters can experience some fast-unfolding action at managed dove fields across the state.

Last year, the Pennsylvania Game Commission changed regulations to allow manipulating crops to attract doves to hunting spots, and the first few managed dove fields were established on state game lands as a result.

This year, Game Commission habitat crews have worked hard to provide nearly 400 acres of managed dove fields on 26 game lands throughout the Commonwealth. You can learn the locations of these fields by visiting the Mourning Dove page at www.pgc.pa.gov and using an interactive map, which plots the fields and provides details about what’s planted in each, as well as other important information. Click on the Manage Dove Field tab to access the map. Other information on the same page highlights dove biology, habitat and hunting strategies.

And a video about managed dove fields can be viewed at the Game Commission’s YouTube channel.

There’s never been a better year to get out and hunt doves and experience the fast-paced, world-class wing-shooting that managed dove fields regularly offer.

With doves numbering over 350 million within the United States, dove hunting is a popular past-time throughout the country. Hunters harvest over 20 million doves each year. In Pennsylvania, on average, about 16,000 hunters will take about 100,000 doves.

Managed dove fields are common throughout the nation. Most often, these fields are planted with crops doves prefer, such as sunflower, millet, sorghum, wheat or other small grains.

While food is the main attraction, the fields meet other needs for doves, as well. Bare dirt makes it easy for doves to collect seeds and small pieces of “grit” to help them digest food. Many fields are located near water and have daytime roosting cover, such as standing dead trees or utility wires, in close proximity.

These all add up to a recipe for success in attracting large numbers of doves.

While manipulation of crops for dove hunting must be done no later than Sept. 15 of each year, those interested in creating their own managed dove fields can start planning for next year by visiting the Best Management Practices document at www.pgc.pa.gov.


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