Often a source of debate, the rules for legal preparation of a dove field are spelled out in black and white by Mississippi’s wildlife officials.
Hunters and land managers preparing fields for dove season, which opens Sept. 3, need only follow the rules spelled out by the state in the official pamphlet on the subject.
The “Dove Field Preparation and Hunting Regulations in Mississippi” document can be found online at home.mdwfp.com, by clicking on the “Wildlife and Hunting” tab, then by clicking the second link under the dove program heading marked “Dove Field Prep and Regs.”
This opens a document that can be saved or printed.
The common direction says fields are legal if they’re prepared following “normal agricultural practices.” Specific questions about that concept are put to rest in the pamphlet.
First, the rules allow for standing crops to be manipulated with the intent of attracting doves to hunt. Standing crops can be mowed or disked. Corn, sunflowers, brown top millet, milo or anything else that’s been grown on the land can be cut when and how the land manager chooses and the field will be legal. It can also be mowed or disked in stages, a few rows now, a few rows later, and be legal. Adding more grain on top of the mowing to sweeten the deal, however, is not legal.
Second, grains that are traditionally top sown in the fall may be sown over prepared ground or no-till drilled and that area will be legal to hunt. A legal dove field can be prepared with wheat sown over disked ground, as this is a normal planting practice.
The pamphlet in question says wheat can be planted “at a rate not greater than 90 pounds per acre,” and notes it must be spread evenly across the area, not piled or clumped. Furthermore, the pamphlet says an area can’t be sown with wheat every few days to keep the doves coming, as this is not a normal agricultural practice.
Additionally, grains that are not traditionally top sown, such as sunflowers or millet, may not be top sown to attract doves. Since these seeds are typically covered when they’re planted, sowing them on top of the ground now to attract doves would create an illegal field.
If you’re in doubt, you should certainly refer your questions to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks at 601-432-2400.
Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer