Hunters can enjoy the full extent of opportunity allowed under the liberal frameworks of the North American Migratory Bird Treaty — 70 days of shooting with a 15-bird daily bag limit.
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks has established two dove zones: the smaller South Zone and the larger North Zone.
The South Zone is just that southeastern area bordered to the north by U.S. Highway 84, to the west by Mississippi Highway 35, to the east by the Alabama line and to the south by the Gulf of Mexico.
The rest of the state is considered within the North Zones.
Each zone has three seasons.
In the North, the seasons are Sept. 1-Sept. 23, Oct. 13-Nov. 11 and Dec. 15-Dec. 31.
In the South, the seasons are Sept. 1-Sept. 9, Oct. 6-Nov. 11 and Dec. 21-Jan. 13.
Biologist Scott Baker, the dove program coordinator for the MDWFP, said the South Zone’s later dates were designed to allow more migration of birds into the coastal area.
Missing is a third season that extends into January in the North Zone, which includes the Delta — Mississippi’s most-productive dove area. That is disappointing news for a lot of duck hunters, who enjoy combining morning duck hunts and afternoon dove shoots.
"If they based it on last year, then yeah, there was no reason to have a late season into January," Greenwood’s David Wilson said. "We didn’t have a ton of birds come in late last year and didn’t have that much of a third season. We didn’t have a lot of food or the right habitat to concentrate the birds we had, so it was slow. But, it’s not always like that.
"When we do have a good migration of doves from the upper Midwest and they get here late and we have good habitat, then January hunting is the best of the year. It can be crazy, and when we pair duck hunting in the morning with dove hunting in the afternoon, that’s pretty cool. I know it’s a crap shoot and the odds aren’t great, but I just wish the opportunity existed just in case we have birds."
On the flip side, Wilson is happy that the entire December holiday season is included.
"My sons and I will be able to hunt ducks and doves together most of the two-week period they are out of school for the holiday break," he said. "That’s a good thing. I just hope they need more shells in their stockings. That means the hunting will have been very, very good."