Farmers can earn extra money and support Kentucky’s hunting heritage by participating in the Cooperative Dove Field Program offered by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
The program leases privately owned and managed fields for public dove hunting in the fall. Enrollment is open through March 1.
“Landowners may earn up to $10,000 in the Cooperative Dove Field Program,” said Kentucky Fish and Wildlife migratory bird biologist Wes Little. “They earn $300 per acre planted.”
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is particularly interested in landowners willing to sow multiple crops. “We want farmers to sow wheat, millet, corn and sunflowers,” Little said. “Multiple crops are best because if you have a failure of one crop, you still have three others to attract doves.”
Planting the same crop on the same plot for consecutive years leaches nutrients from the soil, leading to poor soil health. “We are looking for productivity,” Little said. “Adding crop rotation into the mix helps.”
Participating fields must be at least 10 acres. Additional lease payments are available for landowners who plant buffers around the hunting fields. “The dove field leases generally run from 20 to 30 acres in size,” Little said. “We want to concentrate on landowners with a lot of dove hunting potential on their lands.”
Payment amounts depend on the number of acres enrolled, crop type and fulfillment of the plot management agreement with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.
“We are also looking for silage or hemp fields to lease for dove hunting, up to $1,000 per lease,” Little said.
Biologists with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife must make a determination if a field has sufficient numbers of birds and adequate public access to justify a lease.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is highly interested in reaching agreements with property owners who have acreage in underserved areas with significant numbers of dove hunters. In the western part of the state, this includes Caldwell, Calloway, Christian, Daviess, Fulton, Grayson, Hardin, Hart, Hickman, LaRue, Logan, Lyon, Simpson, Todd and Trigg counties. Boyle, Cumberland, Laurel, Lincoln, Pulaski and Wayne counties are areas of interest in southcentral Kentucky.
To get the process started, landowners must contact their Kentucky Fish and Wildlife private lands biologist or Natural Resources Conservation Service liaison. For a listing of biologists, visit the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife homepage at fw.ky.gov and search under the keywords, “private lands biologist.” Property owners may also call the department at 1-800-858-1549 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Eastern time) for more information.