Is It Legal?
Dove Field Rules and Regulations
The traditional September 1st dove season is almost upon us and the
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is reminding hunters to check
any dove field before they begin hunting to make sure it is not baited
It is the responsibility of every hunter to be certain that he is not
hunting over a baited field. So how does a hunter know if it is legal
to hunt a particular field? The key to determining whether or not a
field is legal is whether bona fide agricultural practices have been
employed. If corn, milo, wheat, or some other grain crop has been
planted and harvested in a normal manner, it is perfectly legal to
hunt. However, if cracked corn, wheat, or some other grain has been
poured on the ground in big piles, that is not a bona fide agricultural
practice and would be illegally baited.
Every hunter should check the field before beginning a dove hunt. If a
field has been freshly disked and has a large concentration of doves,
check to see what type of grain is attracting the doves. If there is
cracked corn, soybeans, sunflower seeds, or other grain, and no evidence
that those grains are simply typical remains from harvesting the crop
that was grown there, it is best to leave. If grain is present along
with crop stubble that makes it apparent the crop was harvested from
that field, it is legal.
Wheat is sown at this time of year in Tennessee as a standard agricultural
practice, so if a hunter checks a field which has been disked and sown
with wheat, it may be legal. But the wheat must be evenly distributed,
not sown more than one time in the same area, and cannot exceed a normal
planting rate. If the wheat is in piles or deep strips, it is illegal.
If there is an excessive amount of wheat, even though it is evenly
distributed, it is illegal.
One thing a hunter should ask himself is, how well does he know the
landowner? Does he always comply with wildlife regulations?
Other Points to Consider:
PLANT A DOVE FIELD IN THE FALL
While federal law allows the growing of a grain crop to be manipulated
specifically for the purpose of attracting doves for hunting, the sowing
of any grains immediately prior to or during the hunting season for the
purpose of attracting doves is considered baiting and is illegal to hunt
doves over. Provided, it is legal to plant winter grains in the fall to
mature and be manipulated for dove hunting the following year's hunting
FREQUENTLY ASKED ABOUT BAITING
legally hunt doves over top sown winter wheat? Yes, provided the
wheat has been sown as a normal agricultural practice such as a grain
crop, cover crop, pasture renovation, soil erosion control or wildlife
winter food plot and conforms with the UT Agricultural Extension
wheat be sown on prepared ground? No. Winter wheat is often
no-till drilled into unprepared ground. Also, top sowing of winter
grains in certain non-grain producing agricultural situations such as
soil erosion control, and overseeding wheat or rye prior to harvesting
soybeans, corn or cotton to establish a cover crop are recognized as
normal agricultural practices in Tennessee. However, only for these
specific situations listed above would it be legal to hunt doves over
winter grains sown on unprepared ground.
sow a wheat field several times, say every three days, and shoot over
it? No. It is not a bona fide agricultural practice to sow grain
several times in quick succession. In the absence of drought or flood,
a planting should be done only one time on a seed bed prepared
sufficiently to reasonably ensure germination.
corn field is harvested and the entire field or strips are plowed up
and planted in wheat, is this considered a legal field for dove
hunting? Yes, if done as a bona fide agricultural practice.
of a field be bushhogged at different times, such as four rows now and
four rows later, and so on? Yes. Manipulating a standing crop in
this fashion is the most reliable way to attract doves over a longer
period of time and to avoid any uncertainty regarding legality of the
practice to attract doves for hunting.
standing grains be bushhogged and additional grains be added to the
millet or sunflowers be top sown? No. Millet, corn, sunflower,
milo, and many other grains are planted only in the spring. Refer to
UT Agricultural Extension Service publication #PB378 for recommended
planting dates and seeding rates.
top sow (broadcast) wheat over an unprepared pasture? No. Winter
wheat is not normally sown over pastures with adequate vegetative
plant a wildlife food plot in the fall and shoot doves that are
attracted to it? Provided that fall-sown seeds and recommended
planting rates and dates as published in the Field Crops Seeding Guide
(UT Agricultural Extension publication #PB378) have been used in
planting the wildlife plot, it is legal to shoot doves that may be
attracted to the plot.
harvest a corn, milo or sunflower field and then redistribute the seed
over the field? No. You cannot distribute or scatter grain or
other feed once it has been removed from or stored on the field where
can I obtain a copy of the UT Agricultural Extension Service
publication #PB378, Field Crops Seeding Guide? You can obtain a
copy by contacting your county UT Agricultural Extension Service
office, or by contacting:
UT Agricultural Extension Service Mailroom
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37901-1071
(865) 974-7208 FAX (865) 974-8850
Remember, an area is considered baited even ten days after all the bait
has been removed. This regulation is to protect the doves, because they
will continue to come back to a baited field for up to two weeks after
the bait has been removed. If a hunter has any doubt that a field may be
illegally baited, the best thing to do is leave the area and contact the
TWRA. In west Tennessee, contact the Region I office in Jackson at
1-800-372-3928 or (901) 423-5725.