LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – With dove hunting beginning soon, you may be looking around for a place to go after the tricky, challenging birds. In this search, keep your eyes on the ground.
That is where evidence of illegal baiting may be found, and it's something to stay away from.
Doves and other migratory birds, including ducks and geese, fall under federal regulations as well as Arkansas hunting rules. Baiting is not allowed.
But what constitutes baiting? The key phrase in the rules is “normal agricultural practice.”
You can grow crops like sunflowers and grains to attract doves. Leave the crop in the field and set up hunting positions around and in the field. That is fine. But you cannot harvest the crop then put it back out in the field or another field.
Here are some official interpretations of the planting regulations:
Planting – Planting grain crops in a field that has been plowed and disked (including top-sewn or aerially seeded wheat fields) is legal as long as seeding rates are in tune with Extension Service recommendations. It is illegal to seed the same field repeatedly, concentrate wheat in long rows or pile wheat on a field.
Harvesting – Harvesting a field often scatters some waste grain which attracts birds. If harvest was conducted as normal agricultural operation, it is legal for doves.
Manipulations – Unharvested fields may be mowed, shredded, disked, rolled, chopped, trampled, burned or treated with herbicides. These fields may be hunted legally for doves.
Hogging down – Livestock may be allowed to graze on harvested and unharvested grain. These fields may be hunted legally for doves, but they may not be legally hunted for waterfowl. This is important to be aware of because some early waterfowl seasons (teal and Canada geese) are open the same time as dove season.
Hunters must check dove fields for themselves whether the premises are those of a friend or a pay-to-hunt operation. Seed or grain on the ground is a red flag, a sign that it's wise to walk away.