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Be aware of Georgia law as dove hunting season approaches

The state is gearing up for the start of dove hunting season next Saturday

MONROE COUNTY, Ga. — Many folks will take their dogs hunting soon as dove season starts next Saturday. Here are some things you need to know to stay out of trouble with the game warden.

Game Warden Wil Smith says the state is gearing up for the start of dove hunting season next Saturday.

Many will come to places like Rum Creek in Monroe County, but Smith says there is confusion when hunts happen on private land.

"People think if they hunt on private property that they don't have to have a license. However, only the property owner and their immediate family is exempt from that license," Smith said.

Last year, hunters bagged about 800,000 birds.

"Our limit is still 15 doves per day with 45 in possession. That means if you go hunting in the morning and you bag your 15, you're done for the day, so you can't go get 15 in the morning and go out later in the day," said Smith.

Right now, Smith and other wardens are crisscrossing Central Georgia looking for violators who haven't worked the land over the summer.

"We are always on the hunt for a baited field. Anyone who has used small grains or millet to attract a bird in at the last minute, it's unfair and it goes against the fair chase doctrine," Smith explained. 

If the state catches you doing anything illegal, it's an immediate misdemeanor, but you very well could face more punishment.

Smith said, "What most hunters don't know or they need to be aware of is that dove are migratory birds and they also fall under federal jurisdiction, and the federal fines are much steeper."

This year, the state will repeat what they did last season with opening day starting one half-hour before sunrise.

You can't hunt for dove after sunset.

As for those illegal fields, Smith says rangers are using ATVs and surveying land from the street in their trucks to look for baited fields.

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