Dove hunting season starting in Fresno County

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A loud wakeup call came before sunrise Friday in rural parts of the Valley. Gunshots sounded off before dawn like an alarm for a group in hibernation for the last few months.

"It's usually kind of a surprise to some people, especially if you're not in the hunting community," said Ben Lewis, hunter.

Fresno County Sheriff's deputies said they got a couple calls from people caught off guard by the start of the season, but it's otherwise been an uneventful start as hundreds of people hit the open fields, looking for fresh targets.

"It's pretty much the starter to the rest of the hunting season. Dove season is that first chance you'll get for this year to get out with your friends and your family and go out and pursue some game," said Lewis.

Being first makes dove season a big deal for hunters in California. They say the birds are delicious, but more importantly, they're the first challenge for a new year of hunting.

After months away from any hunting season, doves provide a good starter.

Lewis said, "Dove are definitely a challenge because they're quick and they're such a small target."

This is the last dove season where hunters can use ammunition containing lead, even on private property.

Deer season is next, coming in two weeks, followed by quail, and then turkeys and pheasants in November-- just in time for Thanksgiving.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is hard at work this weekend, making sure hunters are licensed and not taking more than 15 birds. And they're tracking the seasons on their website, where you can also apply for special hunts in places you normally wouldn't be able to go.
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