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Thursday, August 24, 2017
Chukar season has a promising look

Dove opener should offer up super gunning
Western Outdoor News spent a few mornings out scouting for dove opener this past week and from all indications it’s looking like it could be a “perfect opener” for the 2017 dove season that will kick off on Friday, Sept. 1. Traditional spots that held very few dove last year were loaded with birds and there are lots of natural seed crops and plenty of water to keep dove around. The only question mark to what looks like a great opening holiday weekend of dove shooting is the strong possibility of thundershower activity.

KNOW YOUR DOVE — Three species of dove are legal to hunt in California and Arizona. While there are limits set for mourning and white winged dove, there is no limit on the number of Eurasian collard dove that can be shot. Eurasian dove are larger than the other two species, have a black ring around their neck and are a lighter gray in feather coloration. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

Yuma has been a great dove hunting destination for decades and for good reason, it holds a lot of all three species and there are plenty of places for the general public to hunt. WON checked in with Richard Sprague, owner of Sprague’s Sports Inc., (928) 726-0022, in Yuma, Arizona and the following is his report after a meeting late last week with a biologist from the Arizona Department of Game and Fish.

“Bird populations, all three species, are excellent at this stage of the summer. We are very optimistic and looking forward to the opener. There will be eight (8) Arizona Game and Fish Department sponsored “habitat fields” this year with a total of 117 acres. In keeping the “hunt” in the dove opener, location maps are not provided by the department, but from what I have learned almost all are within 30 minutes of Yuma or less. The 2 nd Annual World Dove Cook Off will be held on Sept. 2 this year at the Cocopah Casino (inside and cool) located off Hwy. 95,” reported Sprague.

Sprague went on to add, “The Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club’s annual Mike Mitchell Dove Hunter’s BBQ will be going on after 4:30 PM on Sept. 2. This popular event will take place at the Cocopah Bend RV Park and Resort…right on the bend of the Colorado River as you come in from the west (California). There is also a “youth dove hunt” planned for the Yuma area with more details to follow.”

Another Arizona dove hot spot would be south of Blythe. Unfortunately, the Game and Fish fields off Baseline next to the rural town of Cibola were not planted this year. WON did get a report from local game warden Courtney Shanley.

“There are still plenty of dove in the area of the fields, but I think the best dove hunting will take place on the Cibola National Wildlife Area which is loaded with all three species of dove now. Good dove shooting could happen on the Farm Fields and the Island Unit. Non-lead shot is required when hunting this refuge,” said Shanley.

There was a very good report and update sent in for the Niland area by Wister Wildlife Habitat Supervisor Rick Francis.

Francis filed the following: “There is a good population of mourning and white winged dove using the area between 312 and 115 as a roost and area 413 east unit has sunflower planted on it and is holding a few dove. Unit 520 has 25 acres of wheat and unit W11 has a 10 acre wheat field. There has been no rain in this area to start the migration south. I have been to the citrus groves around the area and they are full of dove, also noticing many babies flying around.”

Steve Hoblick of Anaheim Hills didn’t take long to bag a mixed dove limit on opening morning last year. Hoblick was hunting between a roost and watering spot and enjoyed great pass shooting near the rural town of Holtville. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

In addition to Wister offering up decent dove hunting there are areas to the south of Calipatria that should provide the hunting public with good shooting under heavy pressure.

Francis added, “The game farms and wheat fields just south of Calipatria are state owned and planted in wheat and have a great population of birds using them. Please note that these fields are closed to all hunting until Sept. 1. You cannot hunt Eurasian collared dove on Wister, Finney/Rammer or those state owned fields until the 1st of September. Keep your fingers crossed for no rain and the opener should be great!”

Editor’s note: There was a 20 minute rain storm that fell in parts of Imperial Valley after Rick Francis filed his report. He added that it wasn’t much and shouldn’t affect dove in the area.

Scott Sewell, Wildlife Habitat Supervisor and Area Manager for the San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge filed the following report with WON.

“The staff at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area has grown good dove habitat, there is plenty of food, water and cover. We’re seeing lots of birds in the area right now. Hopefully we won’t get much crazy weather that will scare them away and we will have a very successful season. The wildlife area is open and ready for opening day. Hunters need to remember that only non-lead shot is allowed on any California Department Fish and Wildlife lands,” stated Sewell.

There will be a FREE DOVE seminar on Saturday, August 26 at the Turner’s Outdoors store in West Covina. This seminar is sponsored by the San Gabriel Valley Quail Forever Chapter. The event will start at 2 PM. For additional information contact the chapter office at 866-206-9070, ext. 6715.

MOJO Outdoors has a new dove device that is sure to attract dove to a field or watering hole. The new MOJO Dove A Flickers offers a new, different and more realistic presentation of the spinning wing concept, which revolutionized duck hunting. The new unit gives a whole new look that simulates a flock of birds by use of multiple units with small wings and random timers that spread small intermittent flashes throughout your decoy spread for dry field application when mixed in with clip-on or tree foam decoys. Each spinning wing unit will run for about 20 hours on 3 AAA batteries. A 4-pack of Dove A Flickers has a MSRP of $49.99 and they should be in stock at gun stores now.

The annual Mohave Desert Youth Quail Hunt is set for October 7-8. There are already 60 junior hunters signed up for this fun weekend afield. As of right now, Cliff McDonald the hunt’s coordinator, told Western Outdoor News that he needs at least 12 more guides for this hunt. Each guide will take one or two youth hunters out on to the Mojave National Preserve for a Gambel’s quail hunt. This youth quail hunt is important to bringing young hunters into the world of hunting. Anyone who wants to donate time or raffle prizes should contact McDonald at (760) 449-4820.

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