If you think all those football fans made some noise Saturday, you should have been in a dove field.
All that gunfire marked the opening day of Georgia’s popular mourning dove season, which is also the
unofficial kickoff of all the fall hunting seasons that follow.
The official 2013-14 dove seasons are Sept. 7-22, Oct. 12-20 and Nov. 28 to Jan. 11.
After opening day, shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset, with a daily bag limit of 15.
Besides the opportunity for fellowship and fun, dove shoots often include food – much like tailgating before football games.
Afterwards, there are usually birds to clean and stories to tell.
And we know what comes next: grilled, bacon-wrapped dove breasts, stuffed dove with jalapeno pepper and goat cheese and one of my personal favorites: cajun smothered doves over wild rice.
SNAKE REPELLENT: Every year about this time, I get questions from readers, friends and colleagues about all the snakes that are wandering around.
Often, they are just looking for a final meal before hibernation – and sometimes they end up in places where people would rather not see them, including homes or garages.
I asked my favorite snake expert, Dr. Whit Gibbons of the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Lab, if there is any way to keep snakes away from your house.
Although there are commercial “snake repellents” available, he is not a fan of such products.
“I am not aware of any scientific study documenting that any product will effectively repel all snakes from an outside area without causing enough of a smell that people would also be repelled,” he said.
One way to make your house less appealing to snakes might be to remove any cover objects or ground litter, such as pine straw or leaves that are close to the house – and which would provide cover or hiding places.
Even if you find a snake in your house, the odds are that is it not a venomous one.
“The majority of snakes that enter people’s houses in the Southeast are harmless rat snakes, which are expert climbers,” he said.
“On rare occasions other species may come into a house in which the front door is flush with the ground, but if the entrance has steps and is elevated, most of them are rat snakes.”
ARROW TIME: The opening of dove season might be the noisiest day of hunting in Georgia, but it’s followed soon after by one of the quietest weekends: the opening of archery season on Saturday, Sept. 14.
Archers get the first opportunity at bringing home a deer – and last year, 113,566 archery hunters harvested more than 60,190 deer, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Statewide archery season runs through Oct. 11, although hunters may hunt deer with archery equipment through the entire deer season (Jan. 1 in Northern Zone and Jan. 15 in the Southern Zone).
“Spring and summer seasons with abundant rainfall, like Georgia has experienced this year, generally produce abundant natural foods,” said John W. Bowers, chief of Game Management. “These conditions often contribute to an increase in deer quality, but can also make it a challenging year to hunt deer.”
Hunters need to remember that, beginning this season, the number of firearms either-sex days is reduced in most counties.
A few factors went into this decision, including the decline in the number of fawns that survive into fall and an increase in doe harvest rates. These factors warranted regulatory changes to reduce the doe harvest.
For more information on this change, visit www.eregulations.com/georgia/hunting/why-fewer-either-sex-days/.