The opening of the mourning dove season in
"On the public land systems we have dove fields and a lot of those will get significant pressure on the first day or two," said DNR Game Management Supervisor Gary Foster. "The first couple of days you’ll get the bulk of the harvest and then it slacks off significantly, but sometimes you can get some great hunting later in the season."
McClintic, Green Bottom, and Hillcrest Wildlife Management Areas have fields specifically designed to attract doves and other small game. The habitat on those public lands isn’t as robust elsewhere in the state, but Foster says they are working on increasing the possibilities where it’s viable for the future.
"We’re going to try to increase our efforts, but West Virginia is about 79-percent forested and a lot of our WMA’s are real heavily forested, 95-percent plus on a lot of them," he said. "So we’re very limited in having areas where you can plant grains and have pretty good dove shoots."
Foster says there are a lot of opportunities for hunting on private land if you catch the farmer at the right time. A freshly cut corn field is extremely attractive to the birds.
Doves, at times, are plentiful, although Foster says he’s not seen any specific data about the numbers for 2011.
"A lot of years we’ll just have exceptional dove hunts and other years we’ll just have a few," Foster said. "It really depends on the hatch and a lot of the doves we get are young of the year. It really can vary from year to year."
September 1st is the traditional opening day and shooting isn’t allowed until noon on the first day by tradition. The rest of the season, hunting is from daylight to dusk.