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 outdoors with friends and family. One of the best ways to do that is through dove hunting, which is one reason why great dove hunts are in such high demand but 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 $150 and enable both hunters to take a daily bag limit of birds each. There are 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. 1 and ending Jan. 7.
Last year, 1,865 birds were harvested from six fields. This coming season, there again will be six special-opportunity dove fields scattered throughout the state from which to choose.
One of the fields is on Allapattah Flats Public Small-Game Hunting Area (PSGHA) in Martin County, east of Lake Okeechobee. Thirteen Dove Club permits are available for the 100-acre field. Participants last year took an average of more than six birds per hunter per day, harvesting 644 birds.
North Newberry PSGHA, in Alachua County, has 13 Dove Club permits on its 40 acres. That field didn’t produce as well last year but yielded 410 doves two seasons ago.
Caravelle Ranch, in Putnam County, has a 200-acre dove field with 30 Dove Club permits available. Last season, 249 doves were harvested there.
The dove field on Hilochee Wildlife Management Area, in Lake County, has 15 Dove Club permits available to hunt its 58 acres. Hunters there last season took 490 doves, which equated to a 2.5-birds-per-hunter, per day average.
Frog Pond PSGHA, in Miami-Dade County, has been a top producer in past years, and 246 birds were taken there last season, for nearly a 2-birds-per-hunter, per day average. Fifteen Dove Club permits are available to hunt its 50 acres.
The remaining special-opportunity dove field is a brand new one to the system and is in Lafayette County. Koon Farm PSGHA is a 40-acre dove field with 13 permits available.
Dove Club permits will be issued by random drawing during Phase I. That application period is July 1-18, 2011.
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 to 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 Augugust 8, 2011. Check for drawing results in late July at MyFWC.com/Hunting, again by clicking “Limited Entry Hunts.” And any applicant who provides his email address will be notified by the FWC by email if 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!
Tony Young is always excited when he gets invited to a dove hunt and finds it a great way to spend quality time with good friends in the great outdoors.
Public Hunting Land (WMA)