Dove tails

Don’t have a private field at which to shoulder a shotgun at the dove population? No problem: Bring plenty of shotgun shells to one of the Gulf Coastal Plains North Region WMAs — specifically Elbow Slough WMA.

But the fair to good dove hunting prospects won’t stop there, as other WMAs in Jeff Johnson’s region should give up the winged delicacies in 2014-15.

Johnson said Elbow Slough WMA is managed to ensure good hunting.

“It’s a small area and it has a reputation as a great place to dove hunt, so it’s a lottery on both days of opening weekend to make sure we can have good, organized hunts and not have to turn a bunch of hunters away due to overcrowding,” Johnson said.

Unfortunately, if you missed the lottery application this year you’ll have to wait until next summer to get in on the opening-weekend action.

But even outside of the lottery days Elbow Slough offers some quality hunting — and it’s open to anyone on the specified hunting days.

“After opening weekend, Elbow Slough WMA is open to anyone to come hunt, but it’s only open on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during the first two splits of the season,” Johnson said. “Even after the two days of lottery hunt last year, when the place opened to everyone on Wednesday, there were some folks that had some really good hunts, especially considering it was several days into the season.”

There are more dove-hunting opportunities in the region, he said, singling out Bayou Pierre and Bodcau WMAs. Other possibilities are Camp Beauregard, Jackson Bienville, Sabine and Union WMAs.

“Bayou Pierre WMA has a fairly large dove field and currently is open to anyone who wants to come. The season is the same … as outside in this part of the state,” Johnson said in his report. “Success here varies from year to year, mainly depending on the number of birds in the general area at the time.

“It’s located within a 30-minute drive of Shreveport, so it’s convenient for lots of folks if they’re looking for a public place to dove hunt.”

The Whittington Fields area of Bodcau also is a place worth scouting out, Johnson said.

People who get out before the season also should look for wooly croton, aka goat weed, which can be found in clear-cut areas.

“These types of areas would most likely be found on Camp Beauregard, Jackson Bienville, Sabine and Union WMAs,” Johnson said. “The availability of these types of areas varies from year to year depending on timber management activities on these WMAs, but the places are worth scouting out to see if such areas are available on a given year.

“When you find one of these areas that is in prime condition it can be really great hunting, and, typically, low-hunting pressure.”

What other WMAs offer dove hunting in other regions of the Sportsman’s Paradise?

Cassidy LeJeune said one of the coastal WMAs in his region, Pointe-aux-Chenes WMA, offers quality dove hunting.

LeJeune and his staff plant dove fields at the tract’s Point Farm Unit, where hunters harvested an average of 9.1 doves per hunter in 2013-14.

LeJeune said the 2014-15 outlook is very good since the fields were planted and fertilized at the ideal time, and the area has experienced a sufficient amount of rainfall. If interested in dove hunting, please refer to the hunting regulations for more details about Pointe-aux-Chenes WMA.

The MAV South Region’s top dove-hunting prospects are Sherburne WMA and Richard K. Yancey WMA, where fields are planted before opening day each year, according to Tony Vidrine.

“We try to provide opportunities for dove hunters on Sherburne (and Yancey). It gives the opportunity for people if they don’t have a place to hunt,” Vidrine said.

There is a big push on opening day, he said, but action heats up again later in the third split as new birds migrate to the region. That, coupled with less pressure, adds up to some fair to good dove hunting.

How good? Fifty-eight hunters harvested 22 doves last season on Richard K. Yancey, he said.

“Some years are better than others, depending on the local population of doves and feed available in the managed dove fields,” Vidrine said.

Charlie Booth in the MAV North Region-Monroe said all three of his public properties have limited use for upland game birds. Ouachita WMA has a small five-acre field planted each year with either sunflower or brown top millet for doves that provides hunting opportunities for dove hunting. It is used sparingly by hunters, with 62 efforts and 21 doves harvested last season.

Bayou Macon WMA, he said, has no prepared dove fields but does have some dove hunting around the waterfowl complex south of Shrock Road. Twenty-five hunter efforts accounted for 69 doves last season, Booth said.

Big Colewa WMA, located several miles west of Bayou Macon WMA, has three fields totaling 20 acres that are planted annually for doves. Hunter bag checks on opening day of 2013-14 totaled 26 hunters and 65 doves.

For dove hunting in the Gulf Coast Eastern Plains Region, the best bet is Sandy Hollow WMA, Christian Winslow said.

Sandy Hollow has four dove fields totaling 44 acres planted with browntop millet. The three fields on the North Tract are open for youth hunters and supervising adults on the opening day of dove season, and the South Tract field is open to all dove hunters.

After opening day, dove season is closed on the WMA until the following Saturday, and then the statewide dove season is followed.

What about dove-hunting prospects on the WMAs of the MAV North Region-Ferriday? Lowrey Moak said Bayou Boeuf WMA includes a 40-acre field north of Highway 4 that is planted in browntop millet. Last season 47 hunters killed 126 doves, Moak said.

About Don Shoopman 563 Articles
Don Shoopman fishes for freshwater and saltwater species mostly in and around the Atchafalaya Basin and Vermilion Bay. He moved to the Sportsman’s Paradise in 1976, and he and his wife June live in New Iberia. They have two grown sons.