illustration of a leaf

Extension Forestry & Natural Resources

Wildlife & Fisheries Biology  -  Environmental & Natural Resources  -  Forest Resources

Attracting Doves...Legally

South Carolina's Official Planting Guide for Dove Fields

Melissa Ide, Clemson University Student (Former)
Edited by Greg Yarrow, Professor of Wildlife Ecology, Extension Wildlife Specialist and
Billy Dukes, Small Game Project Leader, SC Department of Natural Resources

Revised August 2009

Mourning Dove PairPlanting and cultivating dove fields is a popular and successful technique used by sportsmen, landowners, and land managers to attract and concentrate doves. Careful planning is essential to producing a successful and legal dove field.

This brochure provides the legal guidelines for planting and managing dove fields in South Carolina. A successful dove field displays visible and tangible results in a relatively short period of time, benefits many species of wildlife, and may provide outstanding dove hunting opportunities. There are several important factors to be considered when planning a dove field:


  • Proso MilletChoosing the appropriate crop
  • Site selection
  • Size, shape, and distribution of food plots
  • Seeding rates
  • Planting depth
  • Maturation time
  • Maintenance and management
  • Cost and availability of plant materials
  • Weed and insect control

For more information and recommendations on planting wildlife food plots, contact your local South Carolina Department of Natural Resources office or order a copy of the Clemson Extension Wildlife Planting Guide: Native Wildlife Plants in South Carolina from the Clemson University Public Service Publishing website.

Points to Remember

  • Top-sowing, or broadcasting without covering the seed, is not considered a normal agricultural practice and is an illegal procedure for planting dove fields.
  • Doves prefer to land in clear areas between rows. Keep these areas as weed free as possible by cultivating or using herbicides.
  • Plan for at least a portion of the field to mature 2 weeks prior to shooting.
  • Plan dove fields with a variety of plantings, providing for different maturation dates, in order to continue attracting doves throughout the season. (Example: browntop millet, proso millet, and sunflowers)
  • Scout fields several weeks in advance to determine use by doves.
  • Too much shooting pressure will cause doves to move to other areas.  Limit shooting to 1-2 days a week.
  • Manipulating portions of the field by mowing, chopping, burning, or discing prior to hunting will help expose seeds and attract doves to the field.
Recommended Dove Plantings


This publication was written in cooperation with the

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources


Download the printer-friendly version of Attracting Doves...Legally (PDF, 158 KB)


This article is a publication of Clemson University Cooperative Extension's Forestry & Natural Resources team.
Please visit one of our sites for additional information and educational opportunities:

Extension Forestry & Natural Resources
Department of Forestry & Natural Resources (in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Science)


adobe reader icon    adober flash player download