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First Phase Dove Hunting Season Open

October 6 began the First Phase of Mourning and White-Winged Dove Season in Florida. The season will close on Oct. 29, to be followed by Second Phase Nov. 10-25, and Third Phase Dec. 8-Jan. 6.

Some important reminders:

>Shooting hours in First Phase are noon to sunset.  That's an important distinction, from the 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset hours in the subsequent seasons. Afternoon hunts only, in October.

>It's vital that hunters know, and abide by, laws pertaining to recent distribution of seed or other products to attract or "bait" doves. In short, this practice is not allowed! Click here to learn more.  And if you think wildlife officers will cruise through the county making knowing winks, you'd be well-advised to look here from time to time--the weekly enforcement reports.

>Be careful, have fun, and be thankful that we enjoy the freedom to partake of a public wildlife resource.

>If you're wondering where to go dove hunting, check out some of the options offered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Just this week, we received the following announcement pertaining to new dove hunt dates on the Blackwater River State Forest Hutton Unit:

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is opening the Blackwater River State Forest Hutton Unit to dove hunting Oct. 6-7 and Oct. 13-14.

FWC staff say 12 fields ranging in size from two to seven acres are ready for hunting. The fields, which total 46 acres, are planted in brown-top, pearl and dove proso millet.

A maximum of 30 no-cost quota permits will be issued each day of hunting at the check station on a first-come, first-served basis. Each permit allows the quota permit holder and a youth under 16 years of age to participate in the hunt and for each to take a bag limit of 15 mourning and white-winged doves. A non-hunting guest can also accompany each permitted hunter.

Scouting will be allowed the Friday before each hunt. Shooting hours are from noon to sunset.

In addition to regular license requirements, a wildlife management area permit is required for Florida residents 16-64 years of age.

The Hutton Unit is located midway between Milton and Holt and north of Highway 90.

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