MOUNT VERNON — Good news for area hunters that are starting to get the itch — the 2010-11 fall hunting season opens in less than three weeks and there are plenty of opportunities.
The Ohio Wildlife Council recently approved the dates for the early migratory bird season, which begins on Sept. 1. One of the most popular seasons will be dove season, which runs through Oct. 24, and again from Dec. 6 through 21.
“The biggest thing to remember when you are mourning dove hunting is safety,” said Knox County Wildlife Officer Mike Miller. “You have to be careful if you’ve got several people hunting in one field. If you are going to a state wildlife area that has sunflower fields like at Delaware Wildlife Area or at Woodbury Wildlife Area, you might have 10 to 20 people around you. Keep in mind where everybody is sitting, and be sure not to shoot low. Only shoot high. Also, remember to pay attention to where the bird falls.
“There is a daily bag limit of 15 birds, with a possession limit of 30.”
When hunting doves, there are a few things to remember.
“Make sure your shotguns are plugged, so they cannot hold more than three shells,” said Miller. “Also, be sure to retrieve your mourning dove. When you shoot a dove and it drops, you need to immediately go out and get it. That way you know where it is. By law, you have to make an attempt to retrieve any migratory bird you hunt.”
Miller expects local dove hunting to be down, though, it could get better.
“We usually have dove fields at the Kokosing Wildlife Area, but I just looked at them a couple of weeks ago, and they didn’t look very good,” Miller said. “Weather, evidently, hurt that.”
Controlled dove hunts will be offered at Fallsville, Rush Run, Spring Valley, Indian Creek and Bott state wildlife areas. These controlled hunts will take place Wednesday, Sept. 1, and Thursday, Sept. 2; hunting hours will be noon to sunset. Controlled dove hunts will also be offered at St. Marys Fish Hatchery on September 1, 4, 7, 11, 14 and 18. Youth will be given priority on September 1, 4 and 7.
Opening day drawings for all of these hunts will take place at noon, Saturday, Aug. 28, at the respective public area headquarters. Drawings for the other hunts will be held the day of the hunt at noon. Maps and details are available at wildohio.com. Questions about any of these hunts should be directed to the Division of Wildlife’s Southwest District office at (937) 372-9261.
If doves are not your game of choice, the early Canada Geese season also begins on Sept. 1 and runs through Sept. 15.
“The early season (for Canada Geese) is pretty popular as long as it is not going to be 90 degrees,” said Miller. “Quite a few people hunt the geese. This year, the daily limit is four birds, and the possession limit is eight birds after the first day. It is a pretty good season. The thing to look for is fields with wheat stubble or alfalfa fields that have been mowed. Of course, over ponds where the geese are flying back into are also good places.”
Teal are another popular choice for area hunters, mainly because their availability. Teal season runs Sept. 4 through Sept. 19 with a daily bag limit of four and a possession limit of eight after the first day.
“We have a lot of blue-wing and green-wing teal, depending on the weather,” said Miller. “Teal hunting in the county is kind of spotty, but there are some wetlands where people have success. At Knox Lake and at Kokosing Reservoir, people have some success. The best areas to hunt are probably Big Island Wildlife Area or Killbuck Wildlife Area. They like marshlands.
“The thing to remember when you are hunting teal is to make sure they are not wood ducks, because this time of year, that would be illegal. Make sure you can identify what you are shooting at. That’s the main thing.”
Sora rails, Virginia rails and moorhens also come into season on Sept. 1 and run through Nov. 9. The daily limit for rails is 25 and moorhens 15. Snipe season also begins Sept. 1 and runs through Nov. 28. The second wave begins Dec. 6 and runs through Dec. 23.
“Not a lot of people hunt rail,” said Miller. “It dropped off years ago when we went to steel shot.”
The woodcock hunting season is open Oct. 9 through Nov. 22, with a daily bag limit of three birds and a possession limit of six birds.
Hunting hours during the seasons for rails, moorhens, snipe, woodcock, teal, doves and Canada geese are sunrise to sunset. The only exceptions will be on wildlife areas that have specially posted hunting times for doves. The 2010-11 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations and the 2010 Migratory Game Bird Hunting Seasons brochure can be found on-line at wildohio.com.
Editor’s note: Portions of this story were provided by the Division of Wildlife.