COLUMBIA — The following information can be found on the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ website and was posted by Clemson’s Cooperative Extension office. The publication was written in cooperation with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Planting and cultivating dove fields are popular techniques used by South Carolina sportsmen, landowners, and land managers to attract doves, as well as to provide food and cover for a wide range of wildlife species. Careful planning, and an understanding of the legal guidelines for planting and managing dove fields, is essential to producing a successful and legal dove field.
Best management practices for establishing any successful supplemental plantings for wildlife enhance seed germination, plant growth, and provide nutrients for wildlife for prolonged periods of time.
With proper planning and management, seeds produced by native broadleaf herbaceous plants (e.g. ragweed, crotons, lespedezas, beggar-weeds, partridge pea) and native grasses (e.g. panic grasses, paspalums, barnyard grass) can also provide food and cover for doves and other wildlife year-round.
Although doves may be attracted using a variety of small grain agricultural practices, the intent of these practices is for agricultural purposes and not for the sole purpose of luring and attracting doves for shooting, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service defines as baiting. In addition, many of these practices are short-term and do not provide long-term benefits and value to doves and other wildlife, as compared to a variety of well-established wildlife plantings that produce seed, forage, and cover for wildlife year-round.
Practices Not Acceptable and Illegal
1) Sowing seeds several times in succession on the same ground.
2) Piling, clumping, or concentrating small grains on the ground.
3) Except as provided by recommendations in this document, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers seeds freshly planted or otherwise distributed for the purpose of luring, attracting, or enticing doves within gun range to be baiting, and hunting doves in these areas is illegal.
Establishing dove fields with a variety of wildlife plantings provides food throughout the hunting season for doves and other wildlife.
Certified Seed: Use of certified seed provides a level of insurance against poor germination, seed-borne diseases, and weeds. PVP varieties (covered under the Plant Variety Protection Act) can only be saved for seed by the grower for use on their own land. Patented varieties cannot be saved for seed. Check with seed companies for legal requirements.
To enhance dove use of fields, keep areas between rows weed-free by cultivating or using herbicides following label guidelines with special considerations to possible negative effects to pollinators and native bees.
Plan for at least a portion of the field to mature two weeks prior to hunting.
Scout fields several weeks in advance of hunting to determine use by doves.
Limit dove shooting to one to two days a week. Too much shooting will cause doves to move to other areas.
Manipulating portions of the field by mowing, chopping, burning, or disking prior to hunting will help expose seeds and attract doves to the field.