NILAND — Despite some wind, rain and cooler than normal temperatures
the dove population in Southern California and along the lower Colorado River
is amazingly high with good numbers of mourning, white-winged and Eurasian
collared dove winging through in many popular hunting spots.
checked with hunters, gun shop owners and Fish and Game habitat supervisors and
the consensus of opinion is "come opening day there should be lots of dove
to hunt, but there is always a chance of a monsoonal storm showing up just
prior to opening day that could really scatter the dove or send them down into
Sewell, Habitat Supervisor II and Area Manager for Wister, "There are good
numbers of dove on Wister right now and our staff is finishing up cutting wheat
and safflower in public hunting fields off of Hwy. 111 all the way from just
north of Niland and south near the town of Brawley. We are seeing lots of young
mourning and white-winged dove and Eurasian dove numbers continue to build
where there is a good mix of roosting trees, water and an easy food source.
the summer storms that pushed through earlier in the summer kind of went around
Imperial Valley and this allowed for excellent nesting conditions and the dove
population really exploded. I would think that hunters should fare well on
opening day and depending on any change in the weather, right now, there
appears to be enough dove in the sky to produce good shooting right through
Labor Day, Concluded Sewell.
Francis, a Department of Fish and Game Tech, has been heading up a lot of the
disking and planting of fields down in Imperial Valley and finishing touches
are just being completed to make hunting fields ready for opening day.
"What we are doing is cutting the
fields and letting grain fall on the ground. This source of food will attract
flocks of dove and there should be enough hunting areas holding good numbers of
birds that all the hunters coming down to hunt in the valley will enjoy good
gunning. With all that grain out there and some water I would suggest that
hunters scout the area prior to opening day so that they can be under an
established flyway come opening morning, stated Francis.
numbers are high in portions of Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Kern
counties and up along the central valley outside of Paso Robles. The bulk of
the birds being reported are mourning dove, but the population of Eurasian dove
continues to climb in many areas that traditionally hold just mourning dove. As
reported from Niland there is a pretty good population of white-winged dove,
but in other parts of the Southland there just aren't any of these birds
have a large population of mourning dove working the wheat fields and native
dove weed in the foothills of our ranch properties and birds are piling into
stock tanks twice a day to get a drink of water. No much in the way of Eurasian
dove in this part of the flyway, but the mourning dove numbers are way up and
they should stick around clear into the second half of the season for our
hunters, reported master guide Clayton Grant of Bitterwater Outfitters based
out of Cholame.
dove scattered all over the high desert with lots of food and water out there
for birds to find.
would strongly suggest that hunters get out a day early to scout fields and
find an established flyway to hunt on opening day. With all the rain the desert
is loaded with native grain and sunflower crops and there is still a little
standing water from those storms that pounded the desert earlier in August.
Hunters are just going to have to be a little smarter this year and spend some
time checking out possible hunting options, as the birds just have so much out
there to select from. I have seen some concentrations of birds winging over
Hwy. 395 and parts of Interstate 15 and they all appear to be heading to spots
out in the desert. Most of the birds are mourning dove, there are a few young
white-winged dove around and the Eurasian dove are sticking pretty close to
towns, small ranches and other properties that are mostly posted," said
Harold Horner of High Desert Guide Service based out of Victorville.
reports are coming in from Arizona where dove numbers are exceptionally high
all the way from the Indian Reservations north of Blythe and south along the
lower Colorado River to Yuma. There were some heavy rains earlier in the summer
that pounded Cibola, but not much in the way of severe weather has hit the
valley recently, but again all that could change. The hot shooting Arizona Game
and Fish Department fields south of Blythe have been moved this year to off
Baseline next to the rural town of Cibola. WON would think that this area will
get a lot of attention from locals and those crossing over into Arizona to
harvest white-winged dove and unlimited numbers of Eurasian collared dove.
Sportsman's Club still has some open spots for its annual dove blast for those
looking for a special place to hunt in Arizona. It's always a good shoot and
fun time when hunting on private ranch properties and enjoying the club's
amenities. To book a spot for opening day or to shoot clear through Labor Day
log on to their web site at hunt4geese.com or give them a call at (702) 355-8784.
WON also checked in with Sprague's
Sports Inc. in Yuma to find out more about the prospects for opening week.
think that hunters are going to have a very good opening this year. There are a
lot of grain crops out there and the population of all three species of dove
are high. Some of the best public hunting will take place just a little to the
east of Yuma around farm crops and we would expect those that hunt close to the
Cocotah Indian Reservation and down by the Mexican border will have awesome
dove hunting. We will also be holding our 23rd Annual Big Dove Breast contest.
Hunters just have to sign-in and bring in a dove breast with a wing attached to
be eligible for some great awards," said Randy Jones assistant manager at
bag limit on dove in California is 10 birds, but there is no limit during the
first and second half of the season on Eurasian Collared dove. Over in Arizona
the limit on white-winged dove this year has been bumped up to 10 birds in a
daily bag limit and there is no limit on the number of Eurasian dove shot, as
they are legal game all year round. There is also a new law in Arizona giving
the Game and Fish Commission sole authority to regulate hunting within municipalities,
which is opening up about 1.8 million acres to possible hunting opportunities. WON
would recommend that hunters back up the first round of # 8 shot with # 7.5
high base ammo for greater knock down pellets when shooting at the bigger
Eurasian dove or helping drop a mourning or white-winged dove that is just a
tad out of close range.
excellent dove nesting conditions in the desert regions the word is out that
dove may have had multiple nesting opportunities this summer and that many of
the birds that will be harvested over opening day and into the Labor Day
weekend will be young birds with little in the way of mature feathers. Such was
the case last year when it was very difficult to identify a white-winged dove
from a mourning dove due to a lack of significant white patches on the wings of
COLLARED DOVE — Dove hunters should expect to add bonus
Eurasian collared dove to their game bag come opening day. These birds had a
good nesting season with lots of birds flocked up near abandoned farms, cattle
ranches and spots that offer lofty roosting trees, plenty of water and a huge
food source. These dove are larger than white-winged dove and methodically fly
higher than other dove do. This photo was taken on the Wister Wildlife Refuge
in early August where there are good numbers of birds. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC