Hunting articles by Tony Young, the media relations coordinator for the Florida Wildlife Commission’s Division of Hunting and Game Management. You can reach him with questions about hunting at Tony.Young@MyFWC.com.
Tony Young, FWC, 850-488-7867
To me, the best part about hunting is not harvesting game but spending quality time in the outdoors with friends and family.
One of the best ways to do just that is through dove hunting. However, great dove hunts are in such high demand they’re often difficult to find.
That’s why the FWC created its Special-Opportunity Dove Club Program – to offer hunters the chance of experiencing exceptional dove hunting on the state’s best public dove fields.
Dove Club permits enable one adult and one youth (under age 16) to hunt all scheduled dates for the dove field of their choice. Permits cost only $150 and enable both hunters to each take a daily bag limit of birds. There are a total of eight hunts on all but one of the selected dove fields (Caravelle Ranch has six), and all hunts are from noon until sunset and take place on Saturdays, starting Oct. 2 and ending Jan. 8.
Last year, 1,436 birds were harvested from five fields. And this coming season, there will be six special-opportunity dove fields scattered throughout the state from which to choose.
One of the fields is on the Allapattah Flats Public Small-Game Hunting Area in Martin County, east of Lake Okeechobee. There are 25 Dove Club permits available for the 100-acre field, and participants last year experienced an average take of nearly two birds per hunter per day, harvesting 363 birds.
The North Newberry Public Small-Game Hunting Area in Alachua County has 13 Dove Club permits on its 40 acres. That field really produced last season, with 410 doves taken by only 107 hunters!
Another field is on the Combs Farm Public Small-Game Hunting Area in Baker County, where there are 10 Dove Club permits for the 35 acres. Caravelle Ranch in Putnam County has a 200-acre dove field with 30 Dove Club permits available, and the field on Hilochee Wildlife Management Area in Lake County has 15 Dove Club permits available to hunt its 58 acres.
The remaining special-opportunity dove field, the Frog Pond Public Small-Game Hunting Area in Miami-Dade County, was the top producer in past years but was unavailable last season. It will be open this year and is going to have about 30 Dove Club permits available to hunt its 50 acres.
There’s been a change this year: Dove Club permits will not be sold first-come, first-served during Phase I as they have been in the past but will instead be issued by random drawing. And the Phase I application period for applying runs July 1-19.
After obtaining the correct application worksheet by going to MyFWC.com/Hunting and clicking on Limited Entry Hunts, you can apply for these season passes by filling out a single worksheet (with up to five dove field choices) and turning it in at any county tax collector’s office, license agent or by going online at www.fl.wildlifelicense.com. During Phase I, hunters may be awarded a permit for only one dove field.
If you’re successful in getting drawn, you must pick up and pay for your Dove Club permit at any of the same places mentioned above by Aug. 9. You can check drawing results in late July at MyFWC.com/Hunting, again by clicking “Limited Entry Hunts.” And any applicants who provide their e-mail address will be notified by the FWC via e-mail if they are drawn.
Brochures on each of these areas are available online at MyFWC.com/Dove. Also at that Web address, beginning in late September, hunters will be able to find the most up-to-date information on these six special-opportunity dove fields, as well as Florida’s other public dove fields. The website is updated every Thursday throughout the dove season, and information includes dove densities, previous weeks’ harvests and field conditions.
So if you’d like to join the FWC’s Dove Club, you need to try to do so in July. Remember to introduce someone new to hunting when you can. As always, have fun, hunt safely and ethically, and we’ll see you in the woods!
(Return from Dove Hunting to Hunting Articles by Tony Young, FWC)
Public Hunting Land (WMA)