Dove and Goose Seasons Opening in WV


Two of the states first hunting seasons will open this weekend in West Virginia.   The early Canada goose season opens at daylight Saturday morning.  The mourning dove season opens at noon.

September 1 is the first day the US Fish and Wildlife Service allows for the opening day.   The dove season, therefore, has been traditionally opened every year on that day, although the shooting on the opening day cannot start until noon.

"That’s more just a tradition than anything else," said DNR Biologist Steve Wilson. "Years ago there was some thought half-day shooting might spread the hunting out over a longer period of time.  You can overshoot a field.  It was tried and a lot of people liked it, although it didn’t do much to spread the season out.  We kept it as a tradition for that opening day."

Even if there is no reason other than tradition to open the season at noon, it does afford hunters the opportunity to get in some goose hunting which opens earlier in the day.  

"September seasons (for geese) were initiated to allow additional harvest on resident birds," Wilson said. "The migrant birds when they’re coming south they aren’t going to be here until October, November, or even later.  It was designed to put more pressure on those local birds."

Hunters will find no shortage of local birds, although they may not be in places accessible to hunters.

"They’re not dumb, just like most other wildlife.  They live a long time and in a flock of birds you have several in there that have learned over time," Wilson said. "Those that learn fastest survive the longest and they find out where the safe places are."

The numbers of doves in West Virginia are also expected to be abundant this year. 

"This year it’s looking pretty good," he said. "Everywhere I’ve been I’ve seen several doves. Guys I talk to say they’re seeing more doves than usual.  Our mourning call surveys we saw more doves than usual.  It looks like it’s going to be a pretty good year for dove hunting."

Both birds are considered migratory and are under the protection of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  Hunters do not need non-toxic shot for dove hunting.  Shotguns however must be plugged to allow no more than three shot shells at a time for both species.   Goose hunters need a federal migratory waterfowl stamp and are barred from using lead shot.   Hunters of both are required to possess the federal HIP card.


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