Offices and workplaces tend to grow strangely silent around September 1. The cause is obvious: there’s an outbreak of hunting fever.
The first of September marks the start of dove season in Kentucky. Nearly 50,000 people will test their shotgun skills against a bird capable of flying 60 mph. In other words, bring plenty of shells.
Dove hunting in Kentucky is as much a social event as a hunt. It is a time for families and friends to reunite for a day in the field. Dove hunting doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment, and it’s the type of hunting that appeals to men and women of all ages.
However, finding a place to hunt is getting harder. To help solve this problem, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources leases dozens of fields that are free and open to the public. These fields are managed specifically for doves and usually attract good numbers of birds. Check your dove hunting guide for the location nearest you and the open dates for each field.
Shooting hours on public fields begin at 11 a.m. and continue through sunset. Shooting hours on private property are the same on opening day. However, beginning on the second day of the season, shooting hours on private property extend from half an hour before sunrise to sunset. The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission lengthened dove hunting hours on private property this year to provide more opportunities for those afield. The daily limit on doves remains 15.
Make sure you’ve got the proper licenses before heading for the dove field. You need a hunting license ($15 for residents) combined with a state migratory bird permit ($5) or state waterfowl permit ($10) to hunt doves. You don’t need any additional licenses or permits if you have a Kentucky sportsman’s license.
And remember: if you’re shooting a semi-automatic or pump shotgun, state and federal laws require that your gun’s magazine hold no more than two shells. Make sure your gun has its magazine plug in place before you leave the house.
Dove hunting in a crowd can be intimidating and irritating. Unfortunately, that’s what you’ll find on opening day in publicly leased fields and public wildlife management areas. You’ll see far fewer hunters but discover there are still plenty of birds if you wait until after the first weekend of the season. Since doves fly late in the day, hunting for a few hours after work during weekdays is another good option.