If rainfall totals are any indication, dove fields across the state should be in good shape.
“Given the recent rains, we are expecting good production on our dove fields. If the rains continue, we should get good seed production and plenty of food availability on the fields,” said Greg Balkcom, WRD’s migratory game bird coordinator.
Although the food should be present, it’s still too early to tell if we can expect an increase in dove numbers.
“With our dove banding operations just getting underway, it is still too early to tell what our dove production was this year,” said Greg. “As our banding operations continue throughout the summer, we will have a better idea of our local production as measured by the ratio of juveniles per adult in the banded sample.”
To the right is a list of available WMA dove fields where folks can hunt. Some are quota, some are not, so make sure you check the 2018-19 Georgia Hunting Seasons & Regulations booklet before you do anything.
You’ll once again see some VPA fields listed in several regions. These are fields that we wouldn’t normally have if it weren’t for special federal funds. The grant period for these fields ends Sept. 30, 2018.
“However, we are able to encumber remaining grant funds for the next two years, so we plan to continue with most, if not all, of the current VPA agreements through the 2020-2021 hunting season,” said Don McGowan, region operations manager for WRD’s Game Management section. “Several of the VPA landowners have already signed the extended agreements with us (DNR). The VPA/HIP program is part of the comprehensive federal Farm Bill, which is up for reauthorization by Congress. We are hoping that Congress will again include it the Farm Bill and DNR can again apply for these funds. The funds have been a great benefit to the lease component of our WMA program enabling thousands of more acres for public hunting access in Georgia.”
Chris Baumann, Region 6 Game Management supervisor, says his best field is a VPA field.
“Each year the Appling County Dove Field seems to produce the best dove hunts,” said Chris. “This complex of fields is managed by the farmer, and we lease through the VPA Program. The farmer, his family and a host of local volunteers make it an event on opening day for all the youth hunters. The opening weekend is an adult/child hunt, and the remaining two Saturdays of the September season are general open hunts.
“The farmed acreage each year varies from around 110 acres to 127 acres, depending on which fields are planted. There is usually a combination of corn, sunflowers and millet on these fields. The combination of location, size and food availability makes this a great field most years.”
To review the quota-hunt selection odds table, log on to https://georgiawildlife.com/hunting/quota#odds. This will guide you into how many, if any, priority points you’ll need when applying for a hunt.
Youth will have 11 different adult/child quota dove hunts to choose from when applying. A quota-hunt selection odds table is also available for the youth dove quota hunts. Last year’s hardest adult/child draw was at River Creek WMA, where only 33 percent got on the field with no priority. Still, you’ll see that the more than half of these adult/child quota dove hunts were filled with hunters using no priority.
Adult and youth dove quota hunts must be submitted online at www.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com by Aug. 15. Youth will need their own online account to apply.