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Thursday, August 04, 2011
The Duck Club - Part 1 of 2


COUNTDOWN TO SEPT 1: Dove hunters should have a blast

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.

 

Western Outdoor News 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 Mexico."

 

Said Scott 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.

 

“Most of 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. 

 

Rick 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.

 

Dove 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 around.

 

"We 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.

 

There are dove scattered all over the high desert with lots of food and water out there for birds to find.

 

"I 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.

 

Only good 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.

 

The Cibola 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.

 

"I 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 Sprague's.

 

The daily 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.

 

With 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 dove.


eurasian_collard_dove

EURASIAN 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

Reader Comments
I can't wait to get out there and kill a ton of doves. You know the old saying, If it flies it....
jeb
Please remember to pick-up your trash. Pick-upio trashio for those who don't speako this countries official language.
Brian Weir
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