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by Steve McCadams

 A traditional southern dove hunt can provide a lot of enjoyment in September, but now is the best time to plan a hunt.  Migratory bird regulations of the U.S. fish and Wildlife Service allow hunting on agricultural fields planted for wildlife management purposes and then harvested or manipulated in the late summer. Planting a grain field in the previous spring and manipulating it prior to dove season is the reliable way to attract doves over a longer period, and is also the safest way to avoid any question of baiting or intent to bait doves.  Many other species of wildlife also benefit from this wildlife management practice.  The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) recommends this method as the best practice to prepare a dove field.
    Fields planted with sunflowers, corn, millet, wheat or soybeans are very attractive to doves.  Under current regulations, standing crops of any grains or natural vegetation may manipulated to improve dove hunting and make feed available to other wildlife.
    Planting a field now with a grain crop and then bush-hogging strips a little at a time in August is an excellent, legal way to create a dove field.  Bush-hogging a little at a time keeps food available for an extended period and doves have a better chance to find the food and become accustomed to using it.
    Sunflowers are one of the best plants to be used for a dove field, according to TWRA small game biologists.  Black-oil sunflowers produce a small seed doves love. When planted in May, the fields can be harvested or bush-hogged before dove season to provide excellent dove hunting.
    When planning doves fields remember, larger fields will supply more grain and accommodate more hunters, but even small two or three-acre fields can attract enough doves for a small family hunt.
So if you want to enjoy a carefree September dove hunt, plan now, plant now and hunt later.


Steve McCadams
  is a professional hunting and fishing guide here in the Paris Landing area and host of The Outdoor Channel's television series  IN-PURSUIT. 



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