Few violations on dove season opener

The Labor Day holiday marked the start of the season for dove hunters and it was a fairly smooth opening across the central San Joaquin Valley.

Two hunters, however, were busted for getting a head start on the season, according to Lt. Doug Barnhart of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The men, one from Tulare County and the other in Kings, had already collected some fresh doves before dawn Monday, he said.

Also in Tulare, one hunter suffered minor injuries after a "careless act," with his hunting party, Barnhart said. The person was peppered with a shot by a fellow hunter on private property.

In Kings County, a group of seven hunters was cited for baiting birds by planting birdseed inside a gated field on private property. Hunters can be fined as much as $1,000 for baiting.

"It's something we look for every year. It's an illegal but common practice for hunters," Barnhart said.

On the Labor Day holiday, 48 citations were given across the CDFW's central region that includes Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, Inyo and Mono counties. In those seven counties, game wardens made 1,458 contacts with hunters.

The most common violation was unplugged shotguns, Barnhart said.

"For the purpose of hunting dove, a shotgun can only have three rounds -- two in the magazine and one in the gun's chamber," he said.

Another common violation for hunters was trespassing on private lands, Barnhart said.

But only two hunters were cited for having more than the legal amount of doves in possession. Earlier this year, the state upped the daily bag limit from 10 to 15 for mourning and white-winged doves.

The dove season closes Sept. 15 before a second session Nov. 8 through Dec. 22. Legal hunting starts 30 minutes before sunrise and must stop at sunset.