Ready ... Set ...
With just six days remaining until they get the "go" signal, West Virginia's goose and dove hunters are no doubt busy oiling their shotguns, buying shells, laying out camouflage clothing and making sure decoys are in good condition.
The two season openers, which this year will fall on Sept. 1, officially kick off the state's fall hunting extravaganza.
First to open will be the goose season, which will begin one-half hour before sunrise. The 14-day hunt, designed to help control the state's resident Canada goose population, centers mostly on lakes, rivers and recently harvested crop fields.
"Just about any place that has a little water or some open ground, such as a small pond on a reclaimed strip mine, can harbor a flock of geese," said Curtis Taylor, wildlife chief for the state Division of Natural Resources.
Taylor said the best hunting opportunities would be found in areas with lots of open land, such as the bottomlands along the Kanawha and Ohio rivers.
The dove season will begin at noon, mainly because federal migratory bird regulations require it to. After opening day, shooting hours for doves revert to one-half hour before sunrise until sunset.
Doves often flock to areas where grain and seeds are abundant. Freshly mown hayfields and recently harvested corn, sorghum or grain fields are all prime spots. The best shooting times are early mornings and late afternoons.
Because both seasons involve species that are considered migratory, all hunters must obtain a special Harvest Information Program registration card. The cards are free, and can be obtained at DNR licenses and at all hunting- and fishing-license agents.
Goose hunters must also have valid, current federal waterfowl stamps, which can be purchased with a credit card via phone at 800-782-6724.
Federal and state agencies routinely band doves and geese. Hunters who kill a banded bird can find out when and where it was banded by calling 800-327-2263, or by looking it up online at www.reportband.gov.
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.