Unless Hurricane Ida blew the doves all the way north to Canada, dove hunters around the state hopefully found plenty to make opening weekend a success. The first of the three-way split seasons opened in the North Zone (see wildlife and fisheries regulations as to the location of the line separating North from South zones) September 4-26 giving hunters a long weekend to engage in the year’s first hunting season.
I did some research on these birds and found some interesting things about doves that inhabit Louisiana. Did you know there are seven sub-species of doves in our state? The most common one, the Mourning dove, is the one causing hunters to sometimes fill the air with epithets because they can be so difficult to hit. The tendency is to frequently hit where they recently were; their darting, diving, twisting maneuvers and ability to turn on the after-burners result in more mourning doves escaping the barrage of shots than those ending up on the grill. Daily bag limit is 15.
A second dove, much more uncommon than mourning doves, is the White-winged dove, a bird much more common in Texas and states to the west. I saw my first one two years ago when a hunter on the field I was hunting downed one. These birds are legal to take with the same regulations as mourning doves; daily bag limit is 15.
There are two sub-species of doves in Louisiana that have no daily bag limit. However there is one caveat – one fully feathered wing and the head must remain attached to the bird after dressing and cleaning. Otherwise, they become part of the 15 bird daily limit. The most common of these no-limit birds is the Eurasian Collared dove. They are larger than mourning doves and are lighter in color. The most telling feature is a dark ring around the bird’s neck.
Another no-limit dove is the Ringed Turtle dove. These look somewhat similar to a slightly smaller and lighter colored version of the Eurasian Collared dove but I don’t know that I have never seen one.
Louisiana has two species of doves that are protected; there is no season on the Common Ground Dove and the Inca Dove. The Common Ground dove is the smallest of the Louisiana seven and is one you’re not likely to see; there have been no reported sightings in north-central Louisiana. The population of the Inca dove is increasing over the state; I have seen these beautiful birds at my feeders on several occasions. Their most telling feature is a layer of feathers that appear more like small scales then feathers.
The seventh species is one you’re not likely to consider a species of dove. You see them around town, sitting on the top of buildings or on phone wires. We know them as pigeons but technically, they’re Rock doves. These birds are not protected and can be taken anytime year round. However, I wouldn’t advise walking down Trenton St. in downtown Ruston with your shotgun plunking pigeons off the roof of tall buildings. The authorities might not find that amusing.
It’s unfortunate but you can just about count on seeing articles in the paper about some dove hunters being arrested. The vast majority of those arrested will be cited for hunting over bait. In a nutshell, here’s what the regulations say about baiting – it is legal to grow crops and then manipulate them so that seeds that are grown in the field are more available to doves. You can bush-hog crops to knock down seeds, which is legal. Where you get in trouble is adding seeds to a dove field that didn’t grow there or harvesting grain and return some to the field.
That’s a big no-no and a good way to get your mug shot and name in the paper. Have fun, be safe, stay within the boundaries of the law and enjoy Louisiana’s first hunting season of the year.
CANEY LAKE – Bass are schooling and hitting a variety of shad imitation topwater lures. Some bigger fish are hitting soft plastics and crank baits fished in the deeper channels and drop-offs. Some are hitting black spinners along the banks at night. Crappie fishing has been best fishing jigs or shiners around the deeper tops. Bream fishing is fair on worms and crickets around bedding areas. No report on catfish. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
OUACHITA RIVER – Bass have been fair at the mouth of the cuts on shad imitations. Crappie are around the tops in the river and in the river lakes. Jigs and shiners are taking a few. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Some fair to good catches of crappie are being reported in the bayou below the spillway on shiners or jigs. Look for bass to be hanging around the deeper holes in the channel and hitting crank baits and soft plastics. Also some are schooling early and late and hitting topwater shad imitations. Plastic frogs and spinners are taking some around the moss and grass. Bream fishing is fair around the beds on worms and crickets while channel cats are biting cold worms off the banks. For latest reports, call Anderson’s Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey
Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Bream fishing continues to be fair to good on crickets with most caught around the piers and boat docks. Stripers continue to school periodically and are hitting shad imitations with white bucktails taking some beneath the surface. Bass fishing has been best at night fishing around the lights with plastic worms and Shakey heads. Crappie fishing is best fishing 10 feet deep in 14-17 foot water on shiners or jigs. No report on catfish this week. For latest information, call Misty at Kel’s Cove at 331-2730 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
BUSSEY BRAKE – Bass fishing has been off and on. Soft plastics are picking up a few. Crappie are scattered and bream are fair. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU –Crappie are scattered and slow to fair. Bass are best around the edge of the grass and trees on soft plastics and jigs. Bream are fair.Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323- 8707 for latest information.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Catfishing has been fair with mostly smaller fish being caught. Bass, crappie and bream are slow. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE ST. JOHN – No report For information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is on a slow fall with a rise expected next week. Some really nice crappie have been caught early mornings on jigs or shiners. Bass to over 4 pounds, bream and catfish are all fair to good. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.
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