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Doc’s Back Porch and WV Dove Opener

September 9, 2016
By Larry Claypool - OV Times Editor , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Tough talk from a tough man. When retired Army Brigadier General John C. "Doc" Bahnsen speaks, you listen.

That was the case earlier this month as Bahnsen sat on his back porch, with several ears listening, including several local hunters, friends and a few key West Virginia state political figures named Bill Cole, Republican gubernatorial nominee and Mac Warner, Republican Secretary of State hopeful. The occasion was a pre-hunt chat to Bahnsen's annual West Virginia Dove Hunt, which is held each year on Labor Day, on or near the season opener in West Virginia.

It was the 17th annual Dove Shoot, hosted by Bahnsen and his wife, Peggy, at their 132-acre Miller Farm in New Manchester, WV. Again about 60 friends and neighbors of the Bahnsen's were treated to a nice lunch, camaraderie and successful hunting from a field nurtured to attract a nice stock of mourning doves.

Article Photos

Doc Bahnsen (right) talks with hunters and friends on his back porch before a dove hunt on Miller Farm on Labor Day. West Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Cole was also on hand and participated in the annual hunt. Photo by Larry Claypool

Always expect Doc Bahnsen to toss in his political views - Grand Old Party, of course - and strong endorsements of a few attending party candidates. This year those kind words were directed toward Cole and Warner, who both took part in the Dove Shoot.

And as this is a key election year nationally, Bahnsen had a few choice words about the Republican presidential candidate - whom he'll support - and a few others for the Democratic opponent. But those words were left on the back porch.

The dove hunting was generally good with most hunters leaving with their limit of 15 birds. Warm temperatures, in the lower-mid 80's, slowed incoming flights early but hungry birds attempting to feed on Bahnsen's downed sunflower plants offered steady action throughout the afternoon.

Fact Box

"I personally enjoy this similar to Christmas. It's a gathering of people who are all interested in something similar, doing something they love to do - hunt," said Alec Swiger.

Bahnsen, a veteran dove shooter, was raised in Georgia where wing shooting is a way of life. He's brought his keen knowledge of wildlife management and hunting for doves and pheasants to his northern West Virginia farm. The farm is also located adjacent to the 1,212-acre state-run Hillcrest Wildlife Management Area (Hancock County), which also benefits from management tactics at Miller Farm.

Two young hunters are very appreciative of the hunting opportunities. Alec Swiger and Zach Mynes, two local kids and college freshman this year, have participated in the last three dove hunts at Miller Farm.

"I personally enjoy this similar to Christmas. It's a gathering of people who are all interested in something similar, doing something they love to do - hunt," said Swiger. "I think it's absolutely amazing what Doc does. It's like the perfect balance and collaboration of our own political figures that represent us, but when you're hunting along side of them, you realize they're not just a face in the government. They're a fellow hunter, and a friend by the end of the day."

Both Swiger and Mynes were able to limit out before heading back to their college dorms; Swiger to Pittsburgh Technical College and Mynes to Alderson Broaddus University.

West Virginia's hunting season for doves are set in three different slots, Sept. 1 - Oct. 15, Oct. 31 - Nov.19 and Dec. 19 Jan. 12. Shooting hours for dove are from noon to sunset (opening day of the first segment) and from a half-hour before sunrise until sunset for the remainder of season. The possession limits for doves is three times the daily bag limit.

The seasons are set within the annual guidelines established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. All licensed migratory bird hunters, including lifetime license holders and senior citizens, must also have a valid Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration card. HIP cards are available at, license agents and DNR offices.

West Virginia's 2016-2017 Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations brochure is available online at, at license agents and at DNR offices.

Ohio's dove season also began on Sept. 1. It offers two different sessions (Sept. 1 - Nov. 15 and Dec. 17 - Jan. 8, 2017). Pennsylvania opens Sept. 1 as well and offers three sessions (Sept. 1 - Oct. 10, Oct. 17 - Nov. 28 and Dec. 2 - Jan. 1, 2017).



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