Field prep: Do's and don'ts for dove hunting

Labor Day signals the unofficial end to summer, but the holiday also marks the beginning of dove hunting season.

First Sergeant Nate Hutson of the Department of Natural Resources inspects dove fields.

Wednesday, he was inspecting one in Horry County.

"This is a field that I believe they shot on Monday so I just wanted to come out and check things out to make sure everything was legal," Hutson explained, as we walked through line of plants around a dove field, at least two football fields in size.

Hutson checked to make sure the field was baited legally. "What we want to make sure is just that we've checked every area of the field and that there's no extra seeds added that weren't planted there. For instance, folks sometimes come in and if they're sunflowers don't do good, they might go to the store and buy sunflowers and put them out and that's illegal," he explained.

The field he inspected was planted with sunflowers, brown top millet and sorghum.

Fines for illegally baiting can start at $470.

And Hutson said many dove hunters out there are following the rules. Less than one percent of fields DNR inspects are illegally baited.

"Most of the folks we have here are great people and they strive to keep the laws of South Carolina," he said.

The field Hutson inspected on Wednesday was prepared legally.

"It's a long, hot process, but you know after we've been out here, we've determined that this guy, gratefully, is legal," he said.

From Wednesday until September 6th, dove hunters are allowed to hunt from noon until sunset. From September 8th until October 5th, hunting will be allowed a half hour before sunrise until sunset.

It is illegal to hunt more than 15 mourning doves per day.

For more rules on dove hunting and field preparation click here