This time last year, Mississippi dove hunters were mourning the loss of a traditional three-day opening weekend because Labor Day Monday fell on Sept. 1, and by treaty no migratory bird hunting is allowed prior to that date.

Hunters in the North Zone opened that holiday Monday while hunters in the South Zone had to wait even longer.

Boy what a difference a year and a calendar change can make.

On Tuesday, the state wildlife agency announced that its Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks had approved a plan that would give hunters, statewide, a four-day opening weekend.

The season will open at noon on Friday, Sept. 4. Labor Day is on Monday, Sept. 7. The change came from the Commission, and was popular.

“Man, that’s great,” said Joe Walls of Madison, an avid dove hunter who travels to two different areas of the Delta as often as he can during the season. “But that’s not all the good news. The way they structured the first season for the North Zone, we get to darn near hunt from the day it opens through October before it closes.

“Plus, for those of us who truly love doves, that long last season, which is longer than I ever remember having, is wonderful. There is something good for everybody, and certainly worthy of the time and money we spend to create good dove fields.”

Due to a repeat of liberal federal frameworks, Mississippi will have a total of 90 days of dove season with a daily limit of 15 birds per hunter. Under the federal guidelines, the season can open no earlier than Sept. 1 and end no later than Jan. 15, and states can choose up to two zones and have as many as three season segments.

The Commission kept the North and South Zone system intact, with the South comprised of the areas south of U.S. Highway 84 and east of Mississippi Highway 35.

The revamped schedule has the North enjoying a long first season, Sept. 4-Oct. 7, followed three days later by a three-week second season Oct. 10-Oct. 31. Even those hunters in the Delta who crave a longer late season have one that will make them smile, Dec. 13-Jan. 15.

In the South Zone, the first season is shorter, closing on Sept. 13, but then a longer second season of Oct. 10-Nov. 15 and a longer late season of Dec. 4-Jan. 15.

Dove seasons

North Zone: Sept. 4 – Oct. 7; Oct. 10 – Oct. 31; and Dec. 13 – Jan. 15.

South Zone: Sept. 4 – Sept. 13; Oct. 10 – Nov. 15; and Dec. 4 – Jan. 15.

Limit: 15 dove per day, per hunter. Possession limit: 45.