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Thursday, September 12, 2019
Some X zones set to open

Pre-dove opener outlook
As long as the southern part of the state and our neighbors over in Arizona aren’t hit with some untimely monsoonal thundershowers and strong winds prior to the Sunday, Sept. 1 shoot, opening weekend of the 2019 dove season should be outstanding for those afield. Good numbers of mourning and white-winged dove are winging across fields and dumping into watering holes during early morning flights. Also, for those close to orchards, high mesquite or stands of tall eucalyptus trees, there should be excellent pass shooting at hand as the dove head back to their mid-morning roosts.

holtvilledoveshootHOLTVILLE DOVE SHOOT — WON hunting writer Jim Niemiec teamed up with Gus Osterkamp of Tustin to bag double limits of mourning dove, topped off with a handful of Eurasian collared dove while hunting a ranch along a river channel in Imperial County. Good dove hunting is predicted for the entire Imperial Valley and across the border to Yuma and Blythe. WON PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK OSTERKAMP

Thankfully, hurricane Ivo stayed pretty much off the coast of Baja Sur and other than bringing in some swells and winds, it didn’t appear to affect dove numbers anywhere. Western Outdoor News spent Saturday out scouting and there were plenty of birds winging across a warm blue sky, many in tree tops and sitting on telephone wires after having fed early in the morning.

Of interest, due to late hatches and multiple hatches this summer, there is likely to be a lot of juvenile dove bagged. One would expect that 15-bird limits could see some young dove still with pin feathers. Dove hunters should expect to see a lot of wardens out and about, especially near hot dove fields down in Imperial Valley and across to Yuma. Make sure to check your vest and shell bag to make sure there aren’t any left-over lead shotgun shells with you. According to information being passed on by the DFW, even one lead shotgun shell can lead to a citation. Hunters should also be advised that a daily bag limit of dove cannot have more than 10 white-winged dove included.

A very good pre-opening dove report was filed by Rick Francis, Habitat Supervisor for the DFW at Wister.

“After working through the fall planting, irrigating and now rolling the wheat that we grew… all I can say is WOW!” said Francis.

Francis went on to add the following, “This past very dry spring and summer has paid off this year. We have had a solid 2 to 3 hatches of white-winged and mourning dove. The mourning dove population is way up from previous years. Last week, there were literally hundreds of white-winged and mourning dove roosting in the salt cedars between hunting sites 413 and 312, and using the upland food plots at Wister… now there are more! The number of hunting fields were reduced down to just two up north because CWA showed up this summer and re-lasered and re-configured our upland/green feed fields, and also down south. There is no forecast for rain in the near future and the abundance of feed should keep the doves here for a great opening day. The fields planted in wheat are 312 and 413, they have been rolled and are now ready for openers. Eurasian collard dove numbers in this area are down quite a bit from normal, perhaps from all the hunting pressure,” added Francis.

Francis went on to tell WON, “Closed areas to dove hunting are within a ½ mile of the check station, hunt site 114A and the state-owned housing area. Also, area Y16C and the camp grounds are closed to hunting. The Sportfish pond will be open from sunrise to sunset for Fishing Only, no gas-powered boat motors are allowed on this area or past the campground Kiosk.

Richard Sprague, owner of Sprague’s Sports (928-726-002) in Yuma, also offered a good dove report.

“Scouting went well… I was limited in my time I could spend out in the field, but what I did see was encouraging. At this point, bird numbers look excellent. The challenge will be to find a decent hunting spot that has fewer hunters,” stated Sprague.

Sprague then offered up some dove hunting spots around Yuma; “County 19th and Ave. B areas and County 19th east to Ave. 3E are big areas with lots of roosting citrus and date palms, plus center pivot fields with a variety of crops. Also, don’t forget to check out east of Yuma, toward Welton and Roll in Arizona as well. Another source that could offer up good dove hunting spots for unattached hunters is to log on to the Arizona dove website “Yuma Dove Hunt.”

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