FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Hunters will be able to take advantage of the Labor Day weekend to kick off the 2017 hunting seasons with two significant opportunities. September 1 is the opening day for the dove season and the Canada goose season in West Virginia.
“Our dove report shows this year should be similar to last year,” said Biologist Mike Peters who oversees migratory birds for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “Our dove populations don’t fluctuate too much.”
Although most West Virginians wouldn’t classify themselves as “dove hunters” a lot of people will take part in the first few days of the season just to enjoy a day a field. Typically the Greenbottom and McClintic Wildlife Management areas are a big draw for hunters along the Ohio River, but the edge of any agriculture field around the state is a strong spot to stake out for an afternoon of shooting.
“It’s actually probably the first three days that stirs the most excitement and gets the most people out,” Peters said. “It’s kind of a shame because the birds are still around after those first three days and a lot of our areas are underutilized.”
The early Canada goose season doesn’t draw as many participants, but there are numerous opportunities along waterways in the state to target the geese which are largely the resident West Virginia population.
“Resident geese make up a large portion of the goose harvest,” said Peters. “But after that early season, it’s mostly migrants after that.”
Goose hunters can scout for a place where geese congregate and have become generally content. Unfortunately a lot of those places don’t lend themselves to hunting like public parks or golf courses. Still, along most of West Virginia’s public waterways and lakes there are ample numbers of geese to satisfy those who want to give it a try .
Like dove hunting, it’s a select few in West Virginia who would identify themselves as waterfowl hunters, but for the curious and those interested in a nice day in the field, the opportunity is golden.
“West Virginia lies between what biologically are the major flyways. West Virginia is actually in the Atlantic flyway,” said Peters.
Hunters will need to make sure they are properly licensed and outfitted. Hunters for all migratory birds will need the HIP card. Those hunting geese, and ducks when the season opens later in the year, will need a Federal Waterfowl Stamp. Those hunting waterfowl need to use non-toxic shot, lead shot is still allowed for doves. Hunters for all migratory birds need to make sure a plug is installed in the magazine of their shotgun to limit the gun to three shells.
September 1 also is the opening of the season for Common Snipe, Virginia Rails, and Sora in West Virginia.