July “Outta’ the Woods” by Tony Young
Spending time outdoors with friends and family, to me, is the best part about hunting. And one of the best ways to do that is through dove hunting, which is a great reason why dove hunts are in such high demand but often difficult to find.
Because of this, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) created its Special-Opportunity Dove Club Program. It offers hunters the chance to experience exceptional dove hunting on the state’s best public dove fields.
Dove Club permits enable one adult and one youth (age 15 or younger) to hunt all scheduled dates for the dove field of their choice, if successful in the random draw lottery. Permits cost $150 and enable both hunters to take a daily bag limit of birds. All hunts take place on Saturdays from noon until sunset. Scheduled hunt dates and number of hunts vary between fields.
Last year, 1,142 birds were harvested from six fields. This coming season, there will be five special-opportunity dove fields scattered throughout the state from which to choose.
Five dove fields from which to choose
Frog Pond North Public Small Game Hunting Area in Miami-Dade County was again the top producer last year with 671 birds taken. This year, there will be 23 Dove Club permits available to hunt the 75-acre field.
The dove field on Hilochee Wildlife Management Area, in Lake County, has 15 Dove Club permits available to hunt its 58 acres. Hunters there took 99 doves last season.
Hunters harvested 142 birds from Allapattah Flats Public Small Game Hunting Area in Martin County, east of Lake Okeechobee. Thirteen Dove Club permits are available for the 50-acre field.
Caravelle Ranch WMA in Putnam County has three fields that total about 140 acres with 30 Dove Club permits available. Last season, 155 doves were harvested there from just a six-day hunt.
The remaining dove field is a new one – at Tenoroc Fish Management Area in Polk County. Thirteen Dove Club permits will be available to hunt the 50-acre field.
How to apply
Dove Club permits will be issued by random drawing during Phase I. That application period runs from 10 a.m. on July 18 through July 28.
After obtaining the correct application worksheet by going to MyFWC.com/License and clicking on “Limited Entry/Quota Hunts,” you can apply for these season passes by filling out a single worksheet (with up to five dove field choices) and turning it in at any county tax collector’s office, license agent or by applying online at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com. During Phase I, hunters may be awarded a permit for only one dove field.
You may check the drawing results as early as Aug. 2 by logging in to your customer account at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com, and a pop-up message will let you know if you are successful. And any applicant who provides an email address will also be notified by email. If you are successful in getting drawn, you can pay for it online by clicking on the “Claim” link in the “Permit Applications” section of your customer account, or at any of the above-mentioned license agents by Aug. 12.
Dove hunters online hotline
Brochures on these areas are available online at MyFWC.com/Dove. Also at that web address, beginning in late September, hunters will be able to find the most up-to-date harvest information on these five special-opportunity dove fields. The website is updated weekly throughout dove season.