Would you like to host a classic dove shoot for your friends? Staging such an event elevates hosts into exalted company. We who do not own land are always grateful for invitations and are well aware that field preparations are time consuming and expensive. Proper field preparation is the key.

Private landowners can attract and hold doves just as well as the SCDNR by following its practices of planting, crop manipulation and limited hunting activity. Once birds are attracted to an area, they will stay for as long as food remains or until they are shot or scared away. Local birds are the focus of the early season, and the migrants begin arriving around October to November and continue right thru January, depending on the weather. Public hunts are great fun, but private dove shoots, whether during the warmth of September or at Thanksgiving or Christmas, are a long-celebrated southern tradition where youngsters are introduced to hunting, families spend time together in the outdoors and old timers sit around telling tall tales. Getting invited to one is a real treat, but wouldn’t it be special to host one of your own?

The Clemson University Extension Service and the SCDNR offer information on planting wildlife food plots called “Attracting Doves Legally” and a pamphlet called “South Carolina Dove Hunting Guide” that have information on the legalities of preparing fields for dove hunting. Contact the SCDNR’s Small Game Wildlife Section at 803-734-3609 or the Clemson Extension Service at www.clemson.edu/public/.

Local county extension agents can also give planters specific information on recommended crop varieties along with coverage and cost information.