At one time, dove hunting was a really big thing in Mississippi. This was especially the case up in the Delta region of the state on big farming operations.

Pay-by-the-day hunts were also commonly offered by landowners, allowing hunters to pay a trespass fee for a morning or afternoon dove hunt. Sometimes lunch was even provided. 

Dotted all across the state were other dove-hunting opportunities. In some cases, church groups or civic groups sponsored dove hunts as fund raisers.

More often than not, several people got together with permission to hunt a hay field or cut corn field for a dove hunt. I did that several times years ago in Jones County. Those were exceptional dove hunts. 

As time went on, dove hunting seems to have lost its luster, so the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks has tried to light a fire under the dove hunters in the state by creating new programs to generate interest. Let’s survey the status of those dove-hunting projects. Maybe you’ll get fired up to get out the ole dove gun and buy a case of shells. 

Private lands dove fields

One of the new projects the MDWFP has taken on is to make arrangements with private landowners in the state to permit the public to dove hunt on their lands by paying an access fee.

This system has seemed to work well, and the agency has plans to expand it, given they can find more private fields to lease.

Last year, there were dove fields available in seven counties around the state, including Prentiss, Tate, Rankin, Copiah, Jones, Pearl River and Kemper. This year’s field locations can be found at www.mdwfp.com.

The Pearl River County field already was sold out as of mid-August.

Information, rules and regulations concerning the conduct of dove hunts on these private lands is listed for each site. Maps will be provided, as well.

Further details includes the number of shooting/hunting stands available on each site and their exact locations on the fields. 

Also described in detail on the website are the three types of permits for the dove hunts that will be available. Permit Type 1 is an individual field permit, Permit Type 2 is for a dove club permit with opening weekend privileges, and Permit Type 3 is for a dove club permit without opening weekend privileges.

Prices for these three permits is listed online. 

Dove hunters checking out the Private Lands Dove Field Program should also study the list of dove field rules and regulations in earnest. Dove shooting may only be allowed on certain days and at certain times of the day. Dates for the different state zones vary as well.

Make sure you and your hunting party is in compliance with all the rules. Dove hunting is a federally controlled migratory bird activity, so it is carefully monitored. The hunting rules are basically just common-sense hunting safety practices, so know them well. Take a copy to field with you to brief everyone in your group.

WMA dove fields

With 53 state-owned or operated wildlife management areas in the state, one would think some would be open for dove hunting — and you would be right. It is a good public-lands resource of which all hunters should take advantage. 

On the agency website, dove hunters can quickly find a list of the WMAs offering dove hunting. Sixteen WMAs offer dove-hunting fields this season.

Click here for the complete list of fields. 

What was once considered a huge social gathering in Mississippi to dove hunt can certainly be once again. Whether you pursue a dove hunt on private land, the state sponsored private lands program or a state WMA, get some buddies together, or families and friends and plan a weekend dove hunt.