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Dove Season Begins Fall Hunting in Alabama
With dove hunting season upon us, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources reminds hunters that fields must meet certain guidelines to be considered legal for hunting.

The North Zone split season is September 11 through October 2; October 30 through November 20; and December 18 through January 2. The South Zone split season is October 9 through November 6; November 24 through November 28, and December 11 through January 15. Except for opening day when hunting begins at noon, the shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until sunset in both zones.

The following information should clarify any issues concerning dove fields, and help avoid problems which may result from improperly prepared fields.

Hunting over harvested or manipulated standing crops is a legal method of hunting doves. In fact, hunting over harvested or manipulated standing crops may provide excellent dove hunting over a longer period of time than is provided by a small grain planting. Doves are attracted to areas that have abundant seed or grains. Standing crops such as browntop millet, dove proso millet and peredovik sunflower are highly preferred foods and may be manipulated by mowing, raking, disking, or burning.

Federal migratory bird hunting regulations use the recommendations of the Cooperative Extension System state specialists to determine what constitutes a normal agricultural planting. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources must then adopt those recommendations.

It is legal to hunt over normal agricultural plantings. Top sowing of wheat is a recommended planting practice for establishing a cover crop in low-input management systems. This planting practice requires a well-prepared seedbed. A well prepared seedbed involves adequate tilling of the soil so that when the seeds are planted there will be good soil-to-seed contact and the soil is not excessively hard (i.e., it can easily be penetrated by the developing root of the germinating small grain seed). Growers should be aware that the risk associated with this planting practice is that establishing a good stand is more uncertain than with drilling or other methods that result in coverage of seed.

Recommended practices of planting small grain without a prepared seedbed are: (1) no till drilling; (2) broadcasting small grains into the cotton stubble that remains after harvest followed by mowing the cotton stubble; (3) aerial seeding small grains into standing crops such as cotton or soybeans prior to defoliation or leaf drop.


It is recommended that small grain other than wheat be planted into a prepared seedbed by broadcasting or drilling and a bona fide attempt be made to cover seed by cultipacking, disking, raking, etc. Some incidental seed may remain on the surface following a bona fide covering attempt. All small grain planting should adhere to planting dates recommended in printed tables furnished by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. The earliest planting dates for wheat are included by zone in the table below. Recommended seeding rate for small grain is no more than 200 pounds per acre. Seeds should be uniformly distributed.

The planting zones for the State of Alabama are as follows:

North Zone Counties - Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Randolph, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega, Walker, Winston

Central Zone Counties - Autauga, Bibb, Bullock, Chambers, Chilton, Coosa, Dallas, Elmore, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Russell, Sumter, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa

South Zone Counties - Baldwin, Barbour, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Coffee, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe, Pike, Washington, Wilcox

The earliest recommended planting dates for wheat in the North, Central and South planting zones are as follows:

North Zone – August 25

Central Zone – September 1

South Zone – September 15

The planting zones are established by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and should not be confused with hunting zones established in accordance with federal guidelines.

It will be illegal to hunt over wheat planted before these dates or outside of dates recommended in printed tables furnished by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Any small grain planting that does not conform to these guidelines shall be considered bait. Multiple seedings are not permitted. It is illegal to hunt dove on, over, or near any baited area until all bait is completely gone for 10 days.

For further information or clarification of the regulation, visit the Department’s Web site at or call the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries district office in your area to request a copy of the brochure “Management and Hunting of Mourning Doves in Alabama.”

Tanner – (256) 353-2634; Jacksonville – (256) 435-5422; Northport – (205) 339-5716; Montgomery – (334) 242-3924; Daphne – (251) 626-5153; Enterprise – (334) 347-9467.

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