Donald Reed, Schultz, Bruce
LAFAYETTE -- More than 80 hunting and wildlife enthusiasts braved 100-degree plus temperatures in mid-August (Aug. 13) to find out about planting food plots to attract doves.
LSU AgCenter wildlife specialist Dr. Don Reed said it’s actually too late to plant anything to attract doves for the first split of the hunting season, since dove season starts Sept. 1. But millet could be planted now for the second and third splits, he said.
Hunters who want to prepare a field next year could use corn, sunflowers, sorghum or millet to attract doves, Reed said. Several rows of each food source were planted for comparison, and during the field day, several doves landed in the food plots.
Either Roundup Ready corn varieties or tropical corn are options, Reed said.
"Tropical corn is more heat-tolerant," Reed said.
Corn should be planted so it will be beyond maturity when dove season opens, he said.
"Corn along with milo should be planted by the second week in April," he said. "These plants have about a 120-day maturation period."
Sunflowers, however, take only about 90 to100 days for maturity, so an early May planting date usually will work for them, Reed said. Millet can be planted even later and still be ready for the season, he said.
Several rows of corn were cut to the ground to demonstrate how the crop can be enhanced to attract doves.
A crop can be manipulated for doves but not for waterfowl, according to Flip Siragusa, enforcement agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Hunting is legal over a wheat field if it is planted after Sept. 1, but the seed has to be covered with an inch of soil, and the seeding rate can’t exceed 80 pounds an acre, Siragusa said.
Siragusa said the LSU AgCenter determines what field work is considered a recommended agricultural practice – a key factor in determining whether a field can be hunted legally for doves or waterfowl.
The first split of the 2007 dove season is Sept. 1 through Sept. 10. The daily bag limit is 12 birds.
For more information on natural resources, family life, agricultural production, 4-H youth development programs and much more, contact your parish LSU AgCenter office or visit www.lsuagcenter.com.