Hunters accustomed to the traditional Saturday opening of dove season in Mississippi should remember that it begins on Friday this year, and that’s this week.

Past seasons have almost always opened on the Saturday prior to Labor Day, creating a three-day opening holiday weekend for dove hunters. This makes the second year, however, that this is not the case.

Last year, it opened on Labor Day, since the first Monday in September also happened to be the first day of the month. Under international migratory bird agreements, no migratory bird seasons can start prior to Sept. 1.

This year, it was simply done at the whim of the Mississippi Commission of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, who voted earlier this summer to open the 70-day season at noon on Friday, Sept. 4.

“I appreciate the idea, but I wish they’d call my boss and convince them I should be given Friday off,” said Billy Graves of Brandon, an avid hunter who will spend Friday in a delivery truck. He was laughing. “It really won’t affect me, because my group that always hunts together and prepares the dove field together at our camp, we voted unanimously to skip Friday and start on Saturday.

“Most of the people I talk to are doing the same thing, waiting for Saturday to hold their big opening-day hunts.” 

Gene Williamson of Jackson will hunt on Friday, and on Saturday, and on Sunday …

“And, if my shoulder can take it and we still have birds flying, I will hunt on Monday, too,” he said. “But, on Friday, I am not going to hunt any of the big fields that we have at our clubs. I’ve found this little spot between fields where doves are coming to feed and water, just right for me and a couple of others who can be there. It won’t affect the spots we will hunt Saturday and the rest of the weekend.”

Randy Owens of Vicksburg says his club has an oddball plan.

“We have two big fields we planted in sunflowers and other grains and we’ve been scouting and the birds are there,” he said. “We’re going to hunt one on Saturday morning when it’s cool, skip the afternoon hunt and then skip Sunday. Then we will hunt the other, bigger field on Monday afternoon.

“We have always had our traditional big afternoon hunt on Labor Day after a big camp lunch, so we’re sticking with that. Of course, if anyone wants to hunt on Sunday, they are welcome to either hunt the field we will have hunted Saturday morning.

“But Friday, no. They will have to find somewhere else to hunt.”

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.