Jeff Duguay, PhD
article by Trent Livingston
August. Not most people’s favorite time of year, especially in the South. But for your typical “Southern Male,” August is much anticipated. Football season is within reach, an end to the extreme heat and humidity is only a month away, and it is the beginning of hunting season, most importantly… dove season!
This month, I had a chance to ask Louisiana’s resident dove guru, Jeff Duguay, a few questions.
What’s new for the 2014 dove season?
Traditionally, we have opened dove hunting in Louisiana at 12:00 p.m. noon. This season, it opens half an hour before sunrise on opening day, except for WMAs and LDWF private lease fields, which will remain at the noon hour. The later opening times will ensure hunter safety due to the high volume of hunters in attendance. Additionally, there will be 20 extra days of dove hunting this season, with extra days as follows:
• September 6-28 (7 days extra)
• October 11-November 9
• December 10 – January 15 (13 days extra)
• September 6-14
• October 11-December 3 (10 days extra)
• December 20-January15 (10 days extra)
Additional days were determined by surveying dove hunters as to what dates of the season were most important to them for mourning dove hunting.
What can hunters expect as far as numbers – up/down?
It is always difficult to predict what dove numbers will be. However, in Louisiana, the doves breed almost year round. The long-term trend in Louisiana based on dove call count surveys shows increasing populations. We have no reason to believe that doves will be scarce in the state with the additional 20 days of dove hunting this season. Hunters expressed interest in hunting later in the season in order to take advantage of birds migrating down from Northern states.
Best tip(s) you have to offer hunters this year?
Prepare your dove fields one to two weeks in advance of opening day to give doves time to locate those areas. A dove field that has been properly planted, maintained and prepped should hold doves that are in the area. Also, remember that baiting is illegal. If someone has a question, they can go to the USFWS Office of Law Enforcement website: http://www.fws.gov/le/dove-hunting-and-baiting.html for specific information or contact their local LDWF Law Enforcement Agent.
What is your favorite part of the dove “tip-off” to hunting seasons?
I work during the opening of dove season, so I am not able to hunt opening day. However, I really enjoy getting to mingle with dove hunters at our WMAs or private lease fields prior to shooting hours. It is always nice to visit them as they tailgate and see what fine Louisiana cuisine they have cooking on the grill.
Anything else you would like to add?
Don’t forget that persons 16 years of age and older who hunt migratory birds must have proof of Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification on their person while hunting. The HIP certification can be obtained free of charge from any hunting license vendor.
To find more information about dove hunting opportunities on LDWF WMAs or private fields that LDWF leases, visit our website at: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting
I can’t wait, and hope the each of you have a safe and successful opening to the 2014 hunting seasons. Thanks to Jeff “Dr. Dove” Duguay and his time. Stay tuned for future interviews with Jeff.
Jeff Duguay, PhD, is the Research and Survey Program Manager, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in Baton Rouge. He is the state Study Leader for the Mourning Dove, American Woodcock and Research Survey Program. He holds a Ph.D. in Wildlife Management from West Virginia University; a M.S. Ecology from Eastern Kentucky University; and a B.S. Wildlife Management from Unity College in Maine. He was professor of Wildlife Management for twelve years, most recently at Delta State University, where he started the Wildlife Management Concentration in the Environmental Science Degree program