September Opens Dove Season in WV


Hunters hoping to burn a little powder will get that opportunity this week after a long layoff for the summer.  West Virginia‘s mourning dove season opens September 1st at noon.   The noon opening is the traditional start time for the first day only.  The rest of the day, shooting can begin at daylight.  

Most dove hunters will tell you the best time to take advantage of the hunting is opening day.    The main reason is so many other hunters join you in the fields.   Several shooters posted at different points, especially in a big field can be advantageous.

"To an extent," said Steve Wilson of the DNR.  "You can overpopulate a field with hunters and drive them out.   But, if you have a few folks scattered around and keep them moving it does make for better hunting."

Wilson cautions that it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.  Too many hunters concentrated in a single field can cause safety concerns.

West Virginia hunters will likely find an abundance of doves in those fields this fall.   According to Wilson offseason reproduction was good and while the summer was wetter than usual, it’s powerful storms that cause the most detriment to doves.

"If you’ve ever seen a dove nest, you’d wonder, ‘Who put that handful of sticks up there?’" said Wilson. "They make a really flimsy nest and a hard storm can blow them out.   Most of the time, just a general rain they do fairly well and I think we missed most of the storms."

There are a high number of potential places to hunt doves in West Virginia.  Anywhere near an agricultural field is strong, but the DNR also manages for doves on its McClintick Wildlife Management Area in Mason County and the Greenbottom Wildlife Management Area in Cabell County.

"We do some fields that are planted and mowed specifically for dove management," Wilson said. "Plus it’s public land so you don’t have to contact anybody for permission to hunt there.   There’s a lot of good hunting around our agricultural areas if folks will get out and talk to landowners."

Wilson says the perfect dove setup would be a recently mowed grain field, near a waters source, with several dead snag trees nearby for perching.   He recommends a setup near those trees, possibly in a fence row for the most productive dove hunting set up.

Several hundred doves are banded with leg bands each year in West Virginia for monitoring and research purposes.  If you harvest a banded bird, you can report it by calling 1-800-327-2263 or online at   Hunters may keep the band and will receive a certificate of appreciation that includes the banding information for the bird.

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