FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Dove season begins a half hour before sunrise on Thursday and hunters will be out in full force on private properties as well as at wildlife areas. For many Valley families, dove season is a time-honored tradition.
"Oh, that's an annual exciting day for my family. My sons, my aunts and uncles, cousins all go out to the ranch and it's an annual event-- especially on opening day," said Dave Whaley, Visalia.
Whaley's family will hunt on their South Valley cattle ranch. In Fresno County dove hunting is not allowed within Fresno and Clovis city limits. Hunters should be reminded they need permission to enter private property and they can't shoot within 150 yards of an occupied home.
"You can hunt just about on any farmer's property assuming you have permission from that farmer," said Barry Bauer, Sporting Goods Store Owner.
Some hunters were stocking up on dove decoys with flapping wings at Herb Bauer sporting goods.
"Dove season is the most popular hunting season we have in Central California far and away. It probably has twice as many participants as any other-- turkey, deer, pigs. Dove season is far and away the biggest," said Bauer.
Hunters are stocking up on ammo, but if you hunt at wildlife refuges or ecological reserves you must use steel shot instead of lead shot. Dave Whaley said the winter rain has helped set up ideal dove hunting conditions.
"It's also produced quite a bit of what I call dove weed, or mullein weed, out in the wild pastures and the doves really flock to that."
The early dove season lasts from September 1st through the 15th.