The excitement of an opening day dove hunt when you are young spawns a lifetime of memories. Each year, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources plants dove fields that host mentor-youth hunts to introduce young people to the fun of dove hunting. Sign-ups for these fields began Monday, Aug. 8.
“Dove hunting is a perfect way to introduce a young person to the hunting experience,” said John Brunjes, migratory bird coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “You don’t have to sit still or be quiet and it is action packed. You get to shoot a lot and that makes it fun for young people. The warm weather and laid back atmosphere is also appealing to youth.”
The hunts occur Saturday, Sept. 3, on the four designated mentor-youth dove fields. These fields are closed to hunting prior to that day. Registration begins at 8 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 8, by calling the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Information Center at 1-800-858-1549. Registration ends Aug. 19, or whenever all slots are full. Slots are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
“We limit the numbers on these fields to limit overcrowding and provide a quality hunting experience,” Brunjes said. “It is important to note that each caller may only reserve one slot for them and their youth hunters. They cannot register for multiple slots or for other people.”
Each mentor may take two youths aged 15 years and younger. Only two shotguns are allowed per group. Participating youths are not required to hunt. Hunter education and licensing requirements apply to those participating in these hunts
Those hunters ages 12-15 must have a hunting license. Youths younger than age 12 do not need a hunting license. Adults 16 and older must have a valid Kentucky hunting license and a migratory game bird-waterfowl permit, or a sportsman’s license, or a senior/disabled license. They must also have their Harvest Information Program or H.I.P. confirmation number.
To get their H.I.P. number, hunters must log onto the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov and click on the “My Profile” button and answer a few simple questions.
Hours for the mentor-youth dove hunts are 2 to 7 p.m., local time. Hunters must be out of the field by 7:30 p.m. Hunt groups must check-in prior to hunting and check-out with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife staff members before leaving the field.
The Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge traditionally holds mentor-youth hunts, but flooding conditions this year prevented planting of dove fields. The refuge will not host mentor-youth dove hunts or any dove hunting this coming season.
Mentor-youth dove fields on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) open to public hunting on Sunday, Sept. 4 while those on private lands open to public hunting Monday, Sept. 5.
This year’s mentor-youth dove fields include:
· Union County, Higginson-Henry WMA:
Directions: Located off KY 56, about 7 miles southeast of Morganfield.
· Grant County, Curtis Gates Lloyd WMA:
Directions: Take Crittenden exit off I-75 and follow U.S. 25 south to KY 491, turn left across railroad tracks, then right on Wildlife Road.
· Green County:
From Greensburg, take U.S. 68 south for 7.3 miles to a right onto KY 218 for 2.1 miles, then left onto Roy Bagby Road to a field at the end of road on the right.
· Mercer County:
From Bluegrass Parkway exit 59 near the Anderson/Mercer county line, take U.S. 127 south to Lower Clay Lick Road for 0.5 mile. Follow signs to parking area.
Information regarding dove hunting and publicly-accessible fields is contained within the 2016-2017 Kentucky Hunting Guide for Dove, Wood Duck, Teal, Woodcock, Snipe and Crow. This guide is available online at fw.ky.gov. Printed copies of the guide will be available later this month.
Author Lee McClellan is a nationally award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He is a life-long hunter and angler, with a passion for smallmouth bass fishing.