RALEIGH, N.C. - Dove hunting season opens on Saturday, (Sept. 2) renewing a North Carolina sporting tradition for another year. With it comes an advisory from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission for safe and responsible conduct in the field.
"Be seen, be courteous and be responsible, and always follow safe hunting guidelines," said Capt. Chris Huebner, hunter safety coordinator for the Wildlife Commission. He said hunters should practice these basics: Don't shoot at low-flying birds. Alert companions when a bird is too low to safely allow a shot. "Know where the other hunters in your party are," Huebner said. "Let other hunters know where you are - communicate." Don't pepper surrounding buildings with falling shot. "A courteous hunter doesn't fire in the direction of nearby structures or vehicles," Huebner said. Don't hunt over baited fields. Enforcement officers will be watchful for this unsportsmanlike conduct. According to state regulations, placing, exposing, depositing, distributing or scattering of salt, grain or other feed that could serve as a lure for migratory game can constitute a baited area. Hunting doves brings family and friends together. They shouldn't put their birds together, however. A common error is to combine game taken by several hunters into one cooler or game bag for ease in removing from field, but this is a game law violation. Dove season is open from Sept. 2-Oct. 7, Nov. 20-25 and Dec. 18-Jan. 13, with a daily bag of 12 and possession limit of 24. Shooting hours for doves are noon to sunset Sept. 2-9 and one half-hour before sunrise until sunset thereafter. Pump and semiautomatic shotguns must be "plugged" to limit the rounds to three shells. For more information on Game Lands dove fields, hunting regulations and safety precautions, consult the 2006-2007 Regulations Digest, available from hunting license agents or online at www.ncwildlife.org.