Tuesday, August 14, 2012
It's 'post time' for dove opener
|Monsoonal rains hammered parts of the lower desert and up into the Owens Valley last week and additional rain might be heading up in this direction prior to opening day of the 2012 dove season. While new birds are moving into the valley floor they are widely scattered with an abundance of watering holes and the greening up of some spots in Southern California.
There is a good population of all three species of dove in Imperial Valley, up into Mecca and across to the lower Colorado River and down to Yuma. One spot that might not offer up great dove hunting on opening weekend is the high desert region, were thunder showers and wind have moved the birds around quite a bit.
DOVE — Dove hunting can be awesome if you can find the right stubble
field that is close to a roost and water. It might take a little
scouting to find a well established flyway but limit shoots can be
enjoyed when the right field is located. Kirby Bristow of Tucson shows off his
limit of mourning dove he bagged in less than 20 minutes from a field he
located while on a pre-opener scouting trip. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC
Western Outdoor News checked in with some very reliable sources to get a clearer picture of what hunters can expect come opening morning.
"The heavy rains in Imperial Valley have hardened all the ground that the farmers have tilled. Here at the Imperial Wildlife Area ( as of 8-6-12) the wheat has not been cut in DFG fields yet. There are good numbers of white winged and mourning dove using hunting sites 312 A and W 11B where there is a lot of food and fresh water. The fields off of Ruger Road, the Bird Farm and field 138 is all state land and has massive crops of wheat and are (currently) plugged full of all species of dove. Our plans are to start cutting wheat prior to opening day to have fields ready to hunt," reported Rick Francis, head technician with the CA Dept. of Fish and Game at Wister.
Good news for hunters planning on spending a couple of days hunting dove around Niland is that Frank Bailey, owner of Sportsman's Catering, will have his trailer/retail/food service vehicle, parked in the check station area off Davis Road and Hwy. 111, well stocked with ammo and hunting accessories and will be ready for the weekend opener. Bailey will also be selling hunting licenses and the upland game bird stamp for those that need to purchase one at the last minute. For more information on hours of operation call (760) 550-1750.
Another note on Wister is that the deadline to file an application for a camping spot will be on Sept. 4 and that the drawing for spaces in the improved camping area will be at 8 a.m. in the morning on Sept. 7. For additional information contact the DFG office at Wister by phone at (760) 359-0577 or e mail a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WON also checked in with retired upland game bird biologist John Massie of Ramona to get a last minute update on where to hunt in San Diego County.
"While doing a deer survey around Lake Henshaw for My Country Club properties we saw lots of dove flights this past week. It appears that the migration has started a little early." Massie also pin-pointed a few public shooting spots that should produce limit shooting and he recommended the San Felipe Valley Eco Reserve near Scissors Crossing for public land dove shooting in eastern San Diego County. "Last year the Hollenback Wildlife Area, near Jamul, east of Lake Otay had limit shooting for walk on hunters," said Massie.
Massie went on to state, "The area from Mount Palomar to San Felipe got a good soaking with more than 2-inches of rain falling in many places in less than an hour. This amount of rain should really cause dove mullein to sprout out. Dove love that stuff."
When asked about his prediction for opening morning Massie said, "A Saturday opener is always crowded but there are lots of dove to shoot at if you can get away from falling shot."
Good numbers of mourning dove have been reported in San Jacinto Valley and hunters who have access to private property and the limited public land in the valley should enjoy a very successful dove opener. The Four Winds Pheasant Club would be one good spot to hunt on opening weekend. The club is currently holding a very huntable population of dove and hunters reserving a spot at the club can also opt to hunt chukar(4) or pheasant(3) and pay only $90. This offer is good only for a prepaid reservation. For more details call (310) 370-2238 or log on to the club's web site at pheasantclub.com.
All dove hunters, who plan on hunting around a water source, should go well prepared to fend off mosquitoes. With standing water in many new spots there could be more pesky mosquitoes to deal with this opener. The first case of West Niles virus for Orange County was reported last week so it's still out there, but not likely to be as severe as the outbreak was back in 2008 when there were 79 human cases confirmed.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) declared over 1,000 counties across 26 states to be natural disaster areas. California counties were included in this report and while the Southland is not in a severe drought (it's bad) we haven't, to date, witnessed the extreme heat that other states have for long periods of time.