Here's a look at where to find some of Pennsylvania's best fall dove hunting on public land.
By Stephen Behun
Labor Day to most people means picnics, grilled burgers and ice-cold drinks. For hunters, the menu consists of cracking shotgun shells and fast-flying doves.
Here's a look at some of your region's hotspots where you can put a dent in some primers this September.
State Game Lands 219 in Bradford County is a good choice for doves this fall. This game lands covers 5,691 acres. The Northeast Region is primarily wooded. Luckily, this game lands offers many small food plots. The game lands is west of Warren Center in Bradford County and is bisected by Warren Center Road. Although not easily accessed by a major highway, it is worth a drive for some Northeast Region dove hunting.
Another good public hunting location in the Northeast Region is north of Stroudsburg along Route 209 in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area. This might be the best spot in the region to try to fill a limit of doves.
Two factors contribute to the large dove population in this area: Good habitat and the fact that New Jersey, which is just across the river, does not allow dove hunting. New Jersey has a great dove population, and the birds regularly trade back and forth across the line.
For additional information, dove hunters may contact the PGC's Northeast Region office at (877) 877-9357.
For tourist information, including lodging, resorts, camping and other attractions in the region, visit www.poconos.org on the Web, or call the Pocono Mountain Vacation Bureau at (800) 762-6667.
Photo by Steve Carpentieri
The northcentral portion of the state offers some good dove-hunting opportunities. Do not expect large expanses of prime dove habitat due to the fact that the Northcentral Region is primarily forested, a common theme in most of the northern tier of the state.
SGL 252 is near the Union and Lycoming county borders, where 3,000 acres of good dove habitat await hunters south of Williamsport.
This game lands is in an agricultural setting including several ponds and many food plots. Adjacent to SGL 252 is a state correctional facility with several farm fields, offering doves plenty of food and roosting sites.
Hunters may access SGL 252 by following Route 15 south to Route 44 in Allenwood. Take Route 44 west toward Spring Garden to state Route 2004 west and SGL 252.
Another option is SGL 176 in Centre County, northeast of State College. From Route 322, follow the signs for University Airport, which will take you along Fox Hollow Road.
For additional information and free game lands maps, visit the PGC's Web site at www.pgc.state.pa.us. Or contact the Northcentral Region office at (877) 877-7674.
For information about lodging, resorts, camping and other amenities in the Northcentral Region, visit www.visitpennstate.org or call the Centre County Visitor and Convention Bureau at (800) 358-5466
Erie County can be considered the dove-hunting jewel of the northern tier of Pennsylvania. There are several game lands in this region where doves can be hunted.
SGL 314 in the northwest corner of the state is a good bet, with over 3,000 acres of wetlands and agricultural fields. Follow Route 5 to Crayton Station. Once in Crayton, simply drive north on Crayton Road to Lynch Road. Continue west and follow the game lands markers.
In southwestern Erie County, SGL 101 is another prime dove-hunting area. To get here, follow Route 6N west from Albion to Route 226 south, and then turn left onto Tracy Road. SGL 101 is on the south side of Tracy Road.
This is a good choice for dove hunters, thanks to a good mix of fields and woodlands over its 4,706 acres. Both of these game lands are adjacent to agricultural settings, providing great food sources for doves.
For maps, additional information and if you have specific questions, contact the Northwestern Region office at (877) 877-0299
For tourist information in the Northwestern Region, visit the Erie County tourism office's Web site at www.sanduskyohiocedarpoint.com or call the Erie County Visitor Bureau at (800) 255-3743
The southwestern portion of the state has pockets of doves, but it is not as densely populated with birds as are the southcentral and southeastern areas. Still, a mix of agriculture and suburbia makes this section attractive to local and migratory birds.
Access to public hunting areas is also abundant in this section of the state, thanks to the PGC's land management acquisition program.
SGL 297 covers 631 acres five miles north of Marianna in Washington County. The game lands is composed of many small fields and hedgerows and is a good bet for September dove hunting. To get to the game lands from Route 40, turn onto Route 519 south to the first intersection. Turn left onto state Route 2013, which bisects the area.
SGL 117 is larger, offering 2,932 acres north of Burgettstown in Washington County. Follow Route 18 north from Burgettstown. The game lands will be on both sides of Route 18. This area is primarily flat with many fields and hedgerows.
For additional information, contact the PGC's Southwest Region office at (877) 877-7137.
For tourist information such as lodging, resorts, camping and other attractions in the Southwest Region, visit www.laurelhighlands.org or call the Laurel Highlands Visitor Bureau at (800) 333-5661
One of the best game lands in the state for dove hunting is in Cumberland County. SGL 169 covers 2,440 acres approximately 12 miles west of Carlisle and eight miles north of Shippensburg. The game lands are bisected by the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate Route 76).
Another option is SGL 242, with 1,516 acres of fields and wood lots south of Mechanicsburg. Take Old York Road in Dillsburg and follow it east to Stevenstown. And then proceed on state Route 4026 east. This route will bisect the game la
nds, which is not far from the Ski Roundtop Resort.
According to John Dunn, a PGC wildlife biologist, the southeastern and southcentral portions of the state are by far the state's most productive dove-hunting regions. There are many other game lands in these regions that offer excellent gunning opportunities.
For more information, contact the Southcentral Region office at (877) 877-9107.
For tourist information, start by visiting www.visithhc.com, the Harrisburg Hershey Visitor Bureau's Web site.
SGL 56 contains 1,742 acres of public hunting ground in the northeast corner of Bucks County. The game lands is broken into seven different tracts. Following 611 south from Phillipsburg, turn left (east) onto Warren Road in Ferndale. Warren Road leads to the game lands.
Because of the complexity of the game lands layout, consult the PGC's Web site, www.pgc.state.pa.us, for a map to find each of the individual tracts.
Nockamixon State Park contains 5,283 acres of forests and fields that surround a 1,450-acre lake. The park is composed of fields, forests and wetlands with many food plots nearby, making it a good choice for dove hunting this month. Hunting is permitted throughout the park with several exceptions.
The park is five miles east of Quakertown and nine miles west of Doylestown, and is easily accessed off Route 563.
For more information on Nockamixon State Park, contact the park office at (215) 529-7300; e-mail them at email@example.com; or write the Nockamixon State Park office at 1542 Mountain View Drive, Quakertown, PA 18951-5732.
For more information, contact the PGC's Southeastern Region office at (877) 877-9470.
For trip-planning aid, lodging or other amenities, contact the Bucks County Conference and Visitor Bureau on the Internet at www. buckscountycvb.org, or by phone at (800) 836-BUCKS.
Pennsylvania's 2004 dove season is slated to begin Sept. 4, 2004, but is subject to change. Contact the PGC for hunting dates and times.
For more information, including free game lands maps, hunters may access the PGC's Web site at www.pgc.state.pa.us.
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