Location, Location: Prime Real Estate a Must in Dove Field; Access Also Becoming an Issue
Updated: Feb 24
Prelude: Another start to the fall hunting season began this Labor Day weekend with the arrival of dove season. I found myself with my Boykin spaniel Jameson in a field of cut corn with a smattering of sunflowers. It was a benefit hunt and the crowd was big -- too big. But that's the way things are starting to shape up in many areas where dove shoots are popular. Private shoots on prime land are exclusive events. Bigger shoots with sometimes good but often marginal opportunities are dwindling in number. A half-limit was an outstanding day for many shooters where I was. Down the road two miles, in a smaller but better planted field with more seclusion and great surrounding habitat, I heard hunters coming the place to Argentina. Location, location, location.
It's hard to believe autumn is almost here. Early fall dove shoots are a fall traditional in the southeastern United States. Virginia dove hunters may do well this year. Gary Costanza said his research points to a good dove season, for those fortunate enough to find a place to shoot.
“It looks like a pretty good year with a lot of young birds out there. Both early and late season production occurred throughout Virginia,” Costanza said.
Costanza is the migratory bird program leader for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. He explained that DGIF wildlife biologists and technicians try to trap and band about 150 doves in each of the agency's’ regions. Hunters who report taking a banded bird aid biologists as they try to figure out how the birds travel and migrate.
Still, even with an expectation of increased birds this year, dove hunters and would-be dove hunters face challenges; not the least of which is diminishing access.
For the rest of this column that appeared in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, click here.