Dove and small game hunters in Murray County have a brand new public field available this season. This area includes a 32-acre dove field with 63 acres of surrounding forest land located along the Murray/Gordon County line and McEntire Cemetery Road (Davis Rd. if coming from Gordon County from Hwy. 136). The area will be open beginning Sat. Oct 8, 2016, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).
The dove field was planted in corn and is open to hunters, with the surrounding 63 acres open to small game hunters, during the second dove season Oct. 8-28, 2016. Hunters will sign in and park at the kiosk located on McEntire Cemetery Road.
This new hunting area is one of several in Georgia where landowners have worked with WRD in utilizing the U.S. Department of Agriculture funded Voluntary Public Access Program to temporarily enter hunting areas into the WRD Wildlife Management Area (WMA) system.
WRD is interested in leasing agricultural crop fields for public dove hunting, and possibly other types of hunting and outdoor recreation. Private landowners that enroll in the program are eligible for a negotiable lease rate and are provided with a legal agreement giving maximum liability protection. More information available at www.georgiawildlife.com/VPA-HIP.
Regulations quick review: The daily bag limit is 15 doves per hunter. Collared doves may be taken, but do not affect the count of your daily limit. Any auto-loading or other repeating shotgun must be plugged to hold no more than three shotshells while hunting.
Dove hunters 16 years of age and older must possess a Georgia hunting license and a free Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit. HIP provides biologists with needed information to ensure conservation of migratory bird populations while providing quality hunting opportunities. When hunting on a WMA, including this area, you also must possess a WMA license. Hunters may purchase licenses online at www.georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes, by phone at 1-800-366-2661 or at license vendor locations (list of vendors available online).
Updated and accurate harvest rate estimates facilitate the successful management of doves. In 2003, the U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Research Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in cooperation with several states, including Georgia, initiated an ongoing dove banding project. Hunters can participate in this conservation effort by examining harvested doves for leg bands and reporting band numbers to the USFWS at www.reportband.gov or by calling 1-800-327-BAND.
For more information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations.