Dove Hunting Season Opens in Arkansas

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Dove season is in full swing across the state, which has hunters out half an hour before sunrise, watching for birds to fly over the horizon.

Australia Banks, a Fort Smith man, said he doesn't miss opening weekend.

"This is the best time to head out," Banks said. "If you wait too long, all the birds will be spooked. They just won't come."

Banks headed out hours before sunrise Saturday to make sure he had a spot to shoot.

"On opening day, you couldn't get a spot to park in here," Banks said. "Looks like everyone else decided not to come back [today. They must've thought the birds weren't flying much yesterday."

Banks headed back out to a tilled field Sunday morning to shoot again. But, as he predicted, the doves weren't flying close enough to shoot.

"They're just too high," Banks said, as he pointed at a group flying above. "I'd just be wasting my ammo."

But for hunters, dove season is about something more Banks said.

"In the past, dove hunting was one of the first types of hunting that was open," Banks said. "So they were excited. Whether you were a deer hunter, whether you hunt nocturnal animals like coons, or you're a rabbit hunter or a duck hunter - dove hunting gave you an opportunity to sharpen your skills."

Doves may be hunted statewide from Sept. 1 to Oct. 25.

For hunters planning to shoot doves, that means you need to head out sooner rather than later because doves are migratory birds.

"If you wait, you're not going to get anything. They'll all be south," Banks said, explaining why people prefer to shoot during the early season instead of waiting to shoot when the season reopens in the winter months.

It also means that dove hunting is regulated by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which specifically prohibits feeding and baiting. Under federal law, baiting is the direct or indirect placing, exposing, depositing, distributing, or scattering of salt, grain, or other feed that could serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds to, on, or over any areas where hunters are attempting to take them.

Within the state, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission patrols to make sure no one is baiting. If you're caught baiting, you'll be heavily fined.

For more information on hunting regulations, you can visit the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission website at http://www.agfc.com/hunting/Pages/HuntingRegulations.aspx.

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