Office of Law Enforcement
Protecting Wildlife and Plant Resources
What is Legal?

You can hunt doves on, over, or from:

  • Lands or areas where seeds or grains have been scattered solely as the result of normal agricultural operations, which include normal agricultural harvestings, normal agricultural post-harvest manipulations, or normal agricultural practices.
  • Lands planted by means of top-sowing or aerial seeding where seeds have been scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting, a planting for agricultural soil erosion control, or a planting for post-mining land reclamation.
  • Lands or areas where grain or feed has been distributed or scattered solely as the result of the manipulation of an agricultural crop or other feed on the land where grown. Standing crops.
  • Lands planted as wildlife food plots, provided the seed is planted in a manner consistent with Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service recommendations for the planting of wildlife food plots. In states without Cooperative Extension Service recommendations for the planting of food plots, the seed must be planted in accordance with Extension Service guidelines for producing a crop.
  • Lands planted as pasture improvements or for the purpose of grazing livestock. (The Fish and Wildlife Service will not make a distinction between agricultural fields planted with the intent to gather a crop and those planted without such intent provided the planting is carried out in a manner consistent with the recommendations of State Extension Specialists).
  • Standing or manipulated natural vegetation.
  • A blind or other place of concealment camouflaged with natural vegetation.
  • A blind or other place of concealment camouflaged with vegetation from agricultural crops, provided your use of such vegetation does not expose, deposit, distribute or scatter grain or other feed. You should be aware that seeds or grains from such vegetation could create a baited area.

Dove Hunting on Agricultural Lands

Agricultural lands offer good dove hunting. You can hunt doves in fields where grain has been distributed or scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural operation. A normal agricultural operation includes normal agricultural plantings, harvestings, or post-harvest manipulations as well as other normal agricultural practices if they are conducted in accordance with recommendations of State Extension Specialists of the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.

You can also hunt doves over lands planted by means of top sowing or aerial seeding where seeds have been scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting or a normal soil stabilization practice.

Planting and Harvesting

Planted seeds and grains that have not sprouted are very attractive to doves. Lands planted by means of top-sowing or aerial seeding can be hunted where seeds are present solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting or normal soil stabilization practice.

A normal agricultural planting is a planting undertaken for the purpose of producing or gathering a crop. Normal plantings do not involve the placement of grain in piles or other concentrations. Plantings must follow Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service recommendations. Relevant factors include recommended planting dates, proper seed distribution, seed bed preparation, application rate, and seed viability.

A normal soil stabilization practice is a planting for agricultural soil erosion control or post-mining land reclamation conducted in accordance with recommendations of State Extension Specialists.

The planting of wildlife food plots is considered a normal agricultural operation in many areas of the country. In many states, State Extension Specialists provide recommendations for the planting of wildlife food plots. Doves may be hunted over wildlife food plots planted in accordance with these recommendations. In those states where the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service does not issue recommendations for the planting of wildlife food plots, doves may be hunted over these plots where seed has been planted in a manner consistent with the guidelines for producing a crop. However, seeds freshly planted or otherwise distributed for the purpose of luring, attracting, or enticing doves within gun range will be considered baiting. To avoid any question, planting of wildlife food plots should occur early enough to allow time for the seeds to germinate.

You may hunt doves over manipulated grain crops, such as corn, wheat, milo, sorghum, millet, sunflower, and buckwheat.

Other Agricultural Practices

Agricultural activities other than planting or harvesting also scatter grain or other feed in agricultural areas. You can hunt doves in such areas provided the agricultural operation involved is a normal agricultural practice (i.e., one that produces livestock or a crop) and follows recommendations of State Extension Specialists. Examples include "hogged down" fields (where livestock have been allowed to enter fields and feed on standing crops) and feedlots (small enclosed areas where farmers feed livestock to increase their weight). You cannot, however, hunt in an area where grain, salt, or other feed has been placed to improve dove hunting.

Pasture Lands

Doves may be hunted over lands planted for the purpose of developing pasture as well as over lands planted for the purpose of pasture improvements. In both cases, the planting must be carried out in a manner consistent with recommendations of State Extension Specialists.

Manipulation of Crops and Other Vegetation

Agricultural crops, other feed, and natural vegetation may be manipulated to improve dove hunting. Manipulation means the alteration of natural vegetation or agricultural crops by activities such as mowing, shredding, discing, rolling, chopping, trampling, flattening, burning, or herbicide treatments. Manipulation does not include the distributing or scattering of seeds, grains, or other feed after removal from or storage on the field where grown. You should be aware that although you can hunt doves over manipulated agricultural crops, you cannot hunt waterfowl over manipulated agricultural crops except after the field has been subject to a normal harvest and removal of grain (i.e., post-harvest manipulation).

For More Information

The Federal migratory game bird hunting regulations can be found in 50 CFR Part 20. If you have additional questions about dove hunting and the law, contact the nearest U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement office or one of the Service regional law enforcement offices. You should also consult State fish and wildlife agencies to determine what State regulations apply.

Office of Law Enforcement Dove Baiting

Federal Regulations Title 50, Part 20.11

Federal Regulations Title 50, Part 20.21 (i)

Hunter's Responsibility

Last updated: February 14, 2013