Dove season will open on its traditional date of September 1st, and the outlook for the season is good. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources offers 90 public fields with more than 1,000 acres on which to hunt doves this year.
“It’s been a challenging year for preparing fields, but the sunflower fields look great,” said Wes Little, migratory bird biologist with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “Before Derby Day, the weather was cold and wet, then it was really hot in June. Despite the challenging weather conditions, our staff got a good mix of crops in the ground, and the fields look excellent.”
Little said that Kentucky Fish and Wildlife staff installed temporary electric fencing around some public dove fields at planting time to exclude deer from eating the sunflowers or millet crops before they had time to grow and produce seed for attracting doves.
“We are starting to see the benefits of this fencing effort,” he said. “Deer and weed competition can be significant obstacles to producing good dove fields.”
The daily dove bag limit remains 15 doves, with a 90-day season in three segments. The first segment of dove season closes Oct. 26. The second segment opens Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24) and closes Dec. 4, while the third segment opens Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) and closes Jan. 15, 2023.
In addition to a valid Kentucky hunting license and a Kentucky Migratory Bird/Waterfowl permit, hunters must also have their Harvest Information Program (HIP) confirmation number prior to heading afield. To get their confirmation number, hunters must visit the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov, click the “My Profile” tab and answer a brief survey about their migratory bird hunting activities during the previous year.
This confirmation number provided at the completion of the survey must be written on the hunting license or Kentucky Migratory Bird/Waterfowl Hunting permit. Hunters may also reprint their license free of charge after completing the survey, as the HIP confirmation number will then be displayed on it.
“The HIP survey is crucial for knowing how many people are hunting doves each year,” Little said.
The HIP survey is utilized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct more in-depth, follow-up hunter surveys. These in-depth surveys provide vital information on harvest in Kentucky and in the United States, and help federal and state wildlife agencies to manage hunting opportunities for sustainability.
Little also reminds hunters that through Aug. 31, you may not enter public dove fields.
“Scouting must be done outside the dove fields during this time,” he said. “You can use your binoculars and look from parking lots, but don’t go out into the fields. Every time you flush doves from a field, there is a risk they won’t return to that field. People scouting public dove fields by walking into them sometimes inadvertently have scared doves away from the fields before the season opened.”
Consult the Migratory Bird Hunting page on the department’s website at fw.ky.gov for more information on the upcoming dove season. You can also find field locations, an interactive map of the public dove fields and a free printable version of the 2022-2023 Kentucky Hunting Guide for Dove, Early Waterfowl, Woodcock, Snipe and Crow on the department’s website.