An Alabama Tradition
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Finding a place to hunt doves is becoming increasingly difficult, but the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division is working to increase access, especially near population centers.
“We determined that we don’t have enough opportunity for hunting doves on Opening Day, not enough opportunity spread around the state,” said Seth Maddox, WFF’s Migratory Gamebird Coordinator.
Maddox took maps of the 10 largest metro areas around the state and overlaid a 60-mile radius ring to find areas that would provide opportunities for hunting doves.
“We started looking for properties that would provide those opportunities,” he said. “We started with small, stand-alone properties, not necessarily associated with a WMA (Wildlife Management Areas).”
WFF found the first of what they hope to be several areas that fit that bill. The first purchase was the 165-acre Prairie Glades Special Opportunity Area (SOA) in 2021.
“The Prairie Glades SOA is in the Black Belt Region with that fertile clay component in the soil,” Maddox said. “It should be really good. There’s lots of food out there for the birds. Closer to the season, we’ll do some bushhogging and disking. It’s a good place to have some dove hunters. It’s easy to get to from Montgomery and even Birmingham. I think we’ll have some keen interest this fall.”
Registration for the limited quota dove hunts at Prairie Glades and Portland Landing SOAs will open on September 1. Visit www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/special-opportunity-areas to find the link to register for the dove hunts, four at Prairie Glades and one at Portland Landing, and other hunting opportunities.
Maddox said WFF will also be looking for suitable property in southwest Alabama to expand the public’s access to dove hunting, “We’re trying to find something in District 5 that is within an hour’s drive of Mobile,” he said. “That’s the area where we’re lacking most in public opportunity.”
Maddox said dove hunting is still a huge tradition in Alabama even though the number of dove hunters has been slowly declining since the ‘70s.
“We still have between 40,000 and 50,000 hunters participate in dove season in Alabama,” he said. “We’re one of the Top 10 states in harvest each year. People get out and take advantage of this season, one of our first seasons to open. Being in the South, we don’t have a lot of hunting early in the year like they do in northern states. Dove season is not as big a tradition in the northern states because they have other seasons opening about the same time. “Our seasons for deer and waterfowl open later in the year, so our hunters are chomping at the bit to do something out in the field, and dove hunting is the perfect opportunity for that.”
Dove season in Alabama will open on September 4, the Saturday before Labor Day, in the North Zone. The South Zone opening day is September 11.
“I think it should be a good year,” Maddox said. “We’ve had lots of rain, so everything is green. There will be plenty of food on the landscape.”
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