Calendar confounds dove hunters

Bobby Trahan said he was confused.

He wasn’t the only south Louisiana hunter in that number.

Trahan: “What happened to hunting on Labor Day weekend?”

Not this year, and the folks who planned on greeting Monday’s holiday with a sunrise trip to the field will have to wait until next weekend.

The reason, state game managers said last month when the Wildlife and Fisheries Commisison set the migratory bird seasons — the dove-hunting dates among them — is that the Labor Day weekend began Aug. 31 and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allows the soouthern dove season to begin Sept. 1.

“Yeah, I remember, but Texas opens its season Sunday, on the First (September), and I’ve got friends hunting over there,” Trahan said.

This calendar quirk comes around every five or so years, and Louisiana’s standby explanation is that opening day of the dove season is more a social event than it is a grand-opening celebration of another hunting season.

That’s why Saturday’s (Sept. 7) opener continues the tradition of a noon-to-sunset hunting hours.

It’s a chance to gather for lunch, wait out the heat of the day, then take to the field for hopefully cooler temperatures and the promise of more birds flying into fields for a late-afternoon feeding spree.

After opening day, for the balance of the 70-day dove season, dove hunters can go from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

“We know from hunters’ surveys that the average dove hunter in the state hunts three or four days every season,” Department of Wildlife and Fisheries upland game biologist Jeff Duguay said. “The average hunter hunts opening weekend, then maybe another hunt, and we want to maximize the opportunity for that opening weekend.

“The opening days of the dove season are for birds that have been born and raised here,” he said, adding that for October’s second split and December’s third split finds migrant birds in the state.

Duguay said the LDWF’s Wildlife Division has lined up three leased tracts for public hunts for Saturday’s opener. He said as many as 12 wildlife management areas will be open for dove hunts.

For the hunters, a note that in addition to the basic hunting license, all hunters, no matter their age, need to have a no-fee Harvest Information Program permit to be legal in a dove field.