Dove hunting returned to North Carolina Sept. 2 with many local hunters taking to area fields over Labor Day weekend for the popular pastime.
“I told my wife, this is like my Christmas,” said Justin Sanders, 32, a lifelong outdoor sportsman from Siler City.
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SILER CITY — Dove hunting returned to North Carolina Sept. 2 with many local hunters taking to area fields over Labor Day weekend for the popular pastime.
“I told my wife, this is like my Christmas,” said Justin Sanders, 32, a lifelong outdoor sportsman from Siler City. “I hunt all kinds of things: deer, squirrels, turkey. But for me and my family, dove hunting is the big one.”
Sanders said his father, from whom he inherited a love of hunting, and his uncle join him each year on opening day. Even the non-hunters in his family enjoy the day, which culminates with a cook-out.
“It’s a whole big thing for us,” he said.
Sanders isn’t alone in anticipating and enjoying the late-summer season. The mourning dove is the most hunted bird in North America, according to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
In North Carolina, dove hunting season is broken up into three periods — Sept. 2 through Oct. 5, followed by two shorter periods, Nov. 16 to Nov. 30 and Dec. 9 to Jan. 31 — but opening day is likely the single most popular for those hunters, like Sanders, awaiting its arrival.
“Our biggest day is the first day,” said Officer B.C. Smith of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Law Enforcement Division. “A lot of people get out and hunt.”
Smith and other area officers were in the field opening day, ensuring hunters were following the rules. They’ll be doing so for the duration of the season, checking for hunting licenses and ensuring bag limits (15 doves per day, per hunter) are observed, as well as checking to ensure that shotguns used in the sport hold no more than three shells.
There are other rules dove hunters must follow. It is illegal to kill migratory game birds with the aid of baiting; outside the hours of half-an-hour before sunrise to sunset; while exceeding the daily limit; on Sundays; and from or with the use of a motorized conveyance.
Sanders said Wildlife officers do make visits.
“They’ll come by and check your license and make sure you only have three shells in your gun,” Sanders said.
Smith advised hunters, in addition to following regulations, should also keep in mind a few other important practices.
“The main thing is if you’re holding a firearm, be careful where its pointed,” Smith said. “Don’t shoot at low-flying birds. And just be a good sportsman and a good steward. Pick up shell casings and don’t leave them behind. Just be a good sportsman and be safe with firearms.”
Managing Editor Randall Rigsbee can be reached at email@example.com.