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Dove hunters looking for a place to go are once again disappointed in the lack of fields from Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency as the season opener arrives.

Rainy skies could dampen the spirits for opening day dove hunters and linger throughout the Labor Day holiday period.

Odds are wheat fields are muddy as are most any grain fields in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey whose backwash has swept over much of Tennessee this week and drenched the region.

Dove season opens on Friday, Sept. 1 at noon. It’s the annual start of one of Tennessee’s most long-standing outdoor traditions.

Tennessee’s 2017 season is again divided into three segments: Sept. 1 through Sept. 28; Oct. 14 through Nov. 5; and Dec. 8 through Jan. 15, 2018. Hunting times, other than opening day, are one-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Although the Volunteer State has a three segment season, the lion’s share of hunters take to the field the first week of season. After that, doves seem to scatter and hunters just don’t congregate with as much enthusiasm as opening week hunts generate.

Unfortunately for regional hunters there aren’t many public hunt opportunities. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has a field at Camden Bottoms Wildlife Management Area but odds are it will be crowded. Too many people jammed into a place because they had nowhere else to go!

No leased fields were posted in this area on TWRA’s at midweek. Each year the agency tells hunters to log onto their website for places to hunt but the agency’s track record on public dove field leases and even on its own WMAs hasn’t been too good in the eyes of most hunters seeking a place to go.

In times past TWRA worked up fields on its open acreage at Harmon’s Creek near Big Sandy and also at Big Sandy and Old Union units. None of those will have hunts this year!

A few fields are scattered across West Tennessee on some WMA acreage but it pales in comparison to what is needed to accommodate a population yearning for somewhere to go and introduce that youngster to the great sport of dove hunting.

The agency’s attempt to lease private fields from farmers or landowners has not worked well in this area for years. Fact is, landowners have never embraced TWRA’s leasing program as payments don’t offer farmers enough to make it attractive.

That’s more the reason TWRA should make an effort to provide hunters with opportunities on its own wildlife management areas, many of which are growing up in weeds and bushes. Deer and turkey are thriving. Quail have all but vanished. Rabbits are somewhat scarce.

The agency ought to be able to put some acreage toward public dove fields and still provide habitat for these other species at the same time.

When people have no place to hunt they no longer buy hunting and fishing licenses!

Not only should the agency devote more attention to this scenario from its budget but it also receives money from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service via excise taxes collected under the Pittman-Robertson Act from the purchase of hunting supplies.

The Pittman–Robertson Act took over a pre-existing 11% excise tax on firearms and ammunition. Instead of going into the U.S. Treasury as it had done in the past, the money is kept separate and is given to the Secretary of the Interior to distribute to the States.

The Secretary determines how much to give to each state based on a formula that takes into account both the area of the state and its number of licensed hunters.

States must fulfill certain requirements to use the money apportioned to them. Acceptable options include research, surveys, management of wildlife and/or habitat, and acquisition or lease of land.

Meanwhile, if you’re fortunate to receive an invitation from a private landowner or find somewhere else to hunt the daily bag limit for doves is 15. For additional info log onto


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