Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Millions of DOVES in Argentina

I found a few Dove Hunting videos on youtube to tide me over till the season.  Here's one:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Planting a Dove Field - Should I Bait

Now that the dove field is all planted, my thoughts have turned to managing the field.  There will be work to do this summer; fertilizer to add, weeds to spray, crops to mow, landing zones to make bare, and countless other tasks to complete to prepare the field for dove hunting.  Fortunately, I’ve received some advice from a few people I know who have done this before, and part of that advice has been about baiting.

Surely, the Georgia DNR would consider this
pile of corn an act of baiting

I am not sure where most people fall on this issue.  I do know that baiting a field is illegal, but there is a general question of what is considered baiting.  Most DNR’s and Wildlife Commissions will state that a person can perform any normal agricultural practice to prepare a dove field.  That includes plowing, planting, mowing, disking, and all the other practices it takes to grow a crop.  It does not however include spreading seed on top of the ground to attract doves.  Georgia’s DNR states that a field is considered baited for 10 days after all the “bait” is completely removed.  Since doves are migratory birds and covered by federal regulations, most states have the same rules for preparing a dove field.  Georgia provides a detailed brochure on their website.
Some of my friends have told me that it is perfectly ok to get doves familiar with the field by spreading some wheat seed on disked areas in June and July.  This would give the doves three weeks in August to clean the field as well as then the 10 days required by Georgia before hunting over it.  The Georgia brochure claims that this type of activity is not a normal agricultural process, thus it could be considered baiting.
Too much work?
Get some help!

There are also those who question the whole idea of baiting’s illegal status.  What is the difference between throwing corn on the ground and growing corn, mowing it, and leaving the corn scattered on the ground?  In both cases there is corn placed in a condition attractive to doves.  I guess the biggest difference is the amount of work and money that is required to grow the corn.  This supports the argument of some who claim the baiting rules are unfair because the person who can’t afford to plant and grow a crop, does not have the same opportunity to attract birds.  I have to give credit to this point of view, it isn’t cheap to plant and manage a dove field, but I believe that the person with a little ingenuity can find ways to keep the costs down as well as others willing to share the costs.
I’ll admit that I’ve considered the advice to throw some wheat out periodically this summer.  So far I’ve ignored it and don’t plan to do anything that isn’t a normal agricultural practice.  My mind may change if the millet and sesame are not producing like I think it should.  I’ll start mowing in mid to late July, hopefully in time to start attracting all the resident doves to the field.
What are your thoughts?  Please take the poll.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Planting the Dove Field - Again

Some of the best memories of my childhood are of my father taking us hunting and fishing.  I remember when it was hot, I remember the long walks to that far covey, and I remember wading through countless briar patches.  But I don’t remember anything bad, just the fun we had sitting in a field or watching our dog point.  And I remember the enjoyment of being in the field with my father.  Fun despite the hard work it was sometimes.

Before the workday

Our latest trip to the dove field was filled with hard work.  It had been four weeks since we first planted the Sesame and Millet, and the first time I had been able to get to the field since planting.  I was a little worried about the lack of rain in Georgia, but Johnny had put me at ease with a picture of the growing food plot.  Still, as we drove past corn and hay fields dry from the drought, my expectations were that the field would be dry as well.  And after backing the tractor up the grade to the hill, I saw what I expected.  Yes, there was millet, and yes there was sesame growing, but not nearly as developed as it should be.  And the field was choked with other grasses and vines.

Sydnie and Dylan spraying weeds

The summer grasses would be tolerable, they can produce seeds that dove will eat, but I wanted to control some of the other weeds.  So we got straight to work and I put my children on weed detail.  I quickly showed them how to identify what we want in the field versus what to spray and gave them the hand sprayer.  In the meantime, I started plowing the remaining portion of the field for the Proso Millet.

Thirty minutes later, they were done spraying and two hours later I was done plowing.  Sydnie and Dylan had not done enough to control most of the weeds, but were tired of working and I was tired as well.  We had a long lunch, and then spread the seed and disced it into the plot.  Hopefully we get some rain to start the new planting and to kick the rest of the field into gear.  It was a hot, dry, and dusty day in the field, and we were dirty and tired.  The long trip back to camp about did us in, but we made it.

After the workday

Driving home, I was sure that this had not been a fun day for my children.  What 8 and 9 year old wants to spend all day sweating and working in a field?  But I asked anyway, and to my surprise they were both quick to answer about the fun they had.  Hopefully, this is the start of some good memories that they can later reflect upon…memories about when they helped grow a crop and later hunted on it.  I can’t wait for the next few years of taking my children in the field.


Resting in the shade

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Planting a Dove Field - What I've Learned So Far

It’s that time of year.  Dove Hunters are starting to think about the next season and a few are wondering if they should plant a Dove Field this year.  I was amazed to find that Google has this Blog listed in the top 15 sites when you search “Dove” “Field” and “Planting.”  Then I realized that a few people looking for information about planting their own Dove field had somehow stumbled onto this blog.  Hopefully they’ve read the part about my inexperience as a farmer, wildlife manager and wing shooter.  But you yourself may be interested in a planting a Dove Field and may gain some valuable knowledge from what I’ve learned so far.  So here it is:
1.      Tell People What You Are Doing  - Get some advice.

2.      Create a Plan For Your Dove Field - It's more work than throwing some seed on the ground.
3.      Make a Budget – This includes budgeting time for work in the field.

4.      Get A Soil Test – At a mimimum this gives better soil for plants to grow.  In our case we saved a bunch of cash when we found out that no lime was needed.

My son creating his own plan for the field

5.      Read About Baiting – I don’t want to ruin a good hunt for myself, family and friends because the Game Warden shows up to tell me that the field is considered baited.

6.      Hire Someone to Spread Fertilizer/Lime – It takes a lot of time to do it yourself, and we found someone to spread it for no additional costs than the fertilizer itself.

7.      Calendar Your Dove Field and the Work You Will Need to Put In to It – I have a lot going on this summer, placing the Dove Field on the calendar gives it priority over some other things.

8.      Read About It – There is a lot of good technical advice out there.

9.      Create a Backup Plan – This is really a way of saying, don’t get upset if things don’t go the way planned.
10.  Enjoy It – Sure there is a lot of work to be done, but we always get enough of it accomplished while having a little fun.
There isn’t much technical information in this post, but these things are worth knowing.  Dove season is about 3 months away, and if you’re planting a field, keep this advice in mind.  I’m sure I’ll learn a few more things on the way and try to include them in later posts.  In a couple of weeks, I’ll be up to the field to plant the Proso and hopefully to look over some growing Millet and Sesame.

See the full Verision of this Post for more details