Michael Small, small-game project leader for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, said public dove fields are looking very good for the upcoming season; he expect 44 public fields to be open, with seven more slated for youth hunts. 

“Opining day of dove season and the first few days are certainly among the most popular hutting events in South Carolina,” Small said. “But the goal of the WMA public dove fields is to provide quality hunting throughout the three seasons. The fields are planted with that in mind, and often, hunters are missing a good opportunity by not hunting later in the seasons. 

“As is always the case, weather plays a role in how well the fields produce, and this year, because of timely rains, a lot of the Upstate fields are looking great,” he said. “Some of the fields in the coastal plain have been hampered with dry weather and high temperatures. I think we’ll have good hunting throughout, but some areas simply will produce better crops. We do plant a mixture at most fields for season long hunting.”

Small said a number of fields stand out for the 2016-17 season based on typical harvests and how the fields are looking this year.

“Last year, the Canal WMA was great, with around 5,000 birds taken the first week,” Small said. “In addition, Oak Lea is normally a very good area (that) had a down year in 2015, but it is looking great for the 2016 season. Both Toumey A and Toumey B on Manchester State Forest produced great results last year and look exceptional again.”

Small said other public dove fields, including Ross Mountain, Piedmont Forestry Dove Center, Parksville, Bordeaux, Samworth and Donnelly should also be very good this season.