LITTLE ROCK — Hunters looking for a private-land dove hunt this season will find their opportunities enhanced by an additional three locations and 82 more permits available each weekend in September through the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s drawn permit hunt system.
The AGFC has lined up the same field it has had for two years, near the community of Blakemore between England and Lonoke on Arkansas Highway 31. But it has added fields near Slovak (Prairie County), Siloam Springs (Benton County) and Lincoln (Washington County) to offer more private-land permit dove hunts when the season opens Sunday, Sept. 2.
“We had over 1,100 applicants for that one field last year,” Garrick Dugger, assistant chief of the AGFC’s Wildlife Management Division, said of the Blakemore field. “In response to that, and knowing that a number of people from all around Arkansas are looking for a private-lands hunt, we’re responding to the demand.
“We know that our wildlife management areas up in northwest Arkansas are hunted heavily and with that population growing up there, that’s where it’s at. And we don’t have a lot of public land up there that is conducive to dove hunting. We have some, but most of the hunters in northwest Arkansas were going to our WMAs in the Fort Smith and (Arkansas) River Valley areas to hunt dove.”
Starting Aug. 1, hunters can apply for a permit at www.agfc.com to hunt on any of the four private fields in the program. The cost to apply per hunter is $5. The draw for all locations will be held Aug. 16 and applicants will be notified by email if they draw or not. Hunters chosen will receive directions to their field well in advance of opening day of dove season. The first weekend will cover Sunday-Monday, Sept. 2-3, as Monday is Labor Day.
Winning applicants may be accompanied by a second hunter of any age who may hunt at the same shooting station. All hunters will still require an AGFC hunting license and registration in the federal Harvest Information Program before hunting. Licenses can be obtained at www.agfc.com or at many outdoors stores and Walmart sporting goods sections around the state.
Each field was planted in a variety of food doves tend to favor. The field near Blakemore is awash in blooming sunflowers. The Slovak field will be harvested corn fields with top sown wheat. The northwest Arkansas fields have either sunflowers or millet.
The additions bring the total number of shooting stations available for public draw to 102 per hunting day. The field near Siloam Springs will allow for 26 hunting spots per day; the Lincoln field will have 16 stations; the field at Blakemore has space for 20 hunting stations. The Slovak field is large enough to accommodate 40 hunting stations each day.
AGFC staff also are working on many other opportunities for hunters this summer to kick off the 2019 dove season opener.
Private Lands Biologist Jason Honey, a native of Searcy, says dove hunting is something he has been able to enjoy since his childhood, and hopes the private fields and other opportunities being planned this year can get more people involved in hunting.
“A dove hunt is great for young hunters and for people just getting into hunting,” he said. “You can be talking while you’re hunting, that doesn’t appear to bother the dove any. It’s really simple hunting compared to other types, like deer. With dove hunting, you just need a bucket to sit on, a shotgun and some shells and that’s about it."