Each year the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board of Directors gather and discuss in an open meeting, the fall and winter migratory waterfowl seasons. Along with the waterfowl, woodcock and dove will be on the agenda. The meeting will be held Aug. 25 at the Newbury Firefighters Memorial Hall in Newbury starting at 3 p.m.
The federal government has much to say about bag limits and the amount of hunting days allowed for the entire season. Its input is important because it has numbers related to breeding that has occurred in other states and in Canada. This year, as in the past few years, I expect hunting to be more than 120 days in total, lasting well into January. Bag limits will vary of course, depending on species. Wood ducks, will most likely be two per day, mallards, two per day, blacks two per day, pintail two per day, sea ducks two per day, snipe 25 per day, and there will be others.
The regular Canada goose season will be no more than two, possibly three per day, but the early season starting in September, when only resident birds are taken, will be seven per day. This seven-bird early season limit is already written in stone. The season will be Sept. 6 to Sept. 24. No Sunday hunting is allowed. Hunting is allowed from one half-hour before sunrise to sunset.
The woodcock season will be again in this scribe’s opinion to be three per day, with the season running during the pheasant season. You will need a HIP number located on your hunting license to hunt woodcock. If you got a HIP number back in January or February you will not need one for the remainder of this calendar year.
The other bird that should be discussed, but is almost always overlooked, is the morning dove. Almost every state in the U.S. that boasts a dove population has a hunting season. New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts are three states that have not had a season yet. But, head to Rhode Island and you will find a very liberal season.
In the U.S., the dove population is more than 60 million strong. They nest up to two times a year and the success rate is very high. They are very hearty and live in the extreme cold, yet migrate to the south each year. Some do stick around for the winter where birdfeeders are kept full.
The dove is considered a game bird and a very good-eating one too. Most states allow 15 doves killed per day. That will give you an idea of just how many doves there are in this country. In Texas and surrounding states you can take 25 per day. There are so many in the South and Southwest that outfitters make a living charging hunters to come to their farms and hunt the birds. Some of them $250 a day.
The time has come for Massachusetts to also have a dove season. It’s time to discuss this at the meeting next week and do the correct thing and add the dove to our ability to put more meat on the table.
Bill Biswanger is a columnist and experienced outdoorsman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.