Hunting Report

Sacramento: Doves thick in Central Valley for opener

Not so many for Sacramento Valley hunters

BY BILL KARR/WON Staff WriterPublished: Sep 04, 2019

SACRAMENTO — This reporter did some scouting on Saturday, the day before the opener, and drove down Hwy. 99 to around Livingston and Delhi. There were plenty of doves, and a lot of Eurasians, but after an hour of driving around I couldn’t find a spot to hunt, even along the Stanislaus River. I returned home and didn’t hunt on Sunday, but will go out later in the week. The overall report of the dove opener Sept. 1 is that many of the birds have already made their move into the Central Valley, although there were some decent shoots in the Sacramento Valley.

SARA ENOS, 14 years old, of Fresno bagged a limit of doves on her second time hunting. Here she poses limits for her and her dad shot near Sanger in the Central Valley.

WON Field Reporter Andre Fontenot and his son, Josh, headed to his usual spot in Willows for the dove opener. “We arrived at 5:30 a.m. and quickly set up on the perimeter of the almond orchard we were going to hunt. Around 6 a.m. we began seeing a steady group of doves flying out of the orchard. This was strange, because they usually fly into the orchard. We quickly rearranged and started dropping doves here and there. Around 6:30 things came to a grinding halt as the flights shut down. The next four hours we’d get a shot at a single every 20 to 25 minutes and at 11:30 we called it a day. My son bagged 5 doves and I got 6.

At 8 a.m. I got a message for my good friend, Eric Enos of Concord, who told me they all got limits. Eric was hunting with his brother Matt of Fresno and Matt’s daughter Sarah. They were hunting in the small town of Sanger just outside Fresno. Another buddy, Phil Fee of Marin, messaged me and said it was the worst day ever up by Corning, where he and his group of about 7 hunters only bagged 3.”

WON Field Reporter Mike Krause of the Red Bluff area sent in his report: “The day started out slow as far as dove hunting goes. We were cussing about steel shot, background checks etc. There were not many birds to be seen. Ted Lamusga, Cal Carnes, Briar Carnes and myself were hunting my buddy’s walnut orchard just north of Chico. We only shot 15 birds between us for the morning hunt. We knew not to get discouraged as this place is an evening shoot. We headed back out at 4:30 p.m. and knew it was on, since there were doves everywhere! We were hunting a water hole next to the orchard and these birds wanted water. Everyone shot limits! I was real happy for Briar Carnes, as this was her first dove hunting trip.”

James Stone of Elite Sportsmen’s Guide Service said that anyone near the Sutter Buttes did pretty well on the dove opener.

FIRST TIME DOVE hunter Briar Carnes ended opening day with a limit of doves, and her young golden retriever, “Riggins,”helped out some in locating the downed birds.

Guide Robert Weese of Northern California Guide Service said stormy weather in the Red Bluff area prior to the dove opener sent birds elsewhere. “Up where I am at I don’t think the opener was very good,” Weese said. “I heard a little shooting but it only went on for 15 minutes at the most. I heard four rallies of shooting, then it was nothing. We had thunderstorms a few days ago with rain. Prior to that, I saw the dove were starting to build. Then the rain came and that storm and they all took off.”

Guide Kirk Portocarrero of SacRiverGuide said the dove opener was dismal in the Redding area. “It is the slowest opener I have ever seen,” he said. Portocarrero took a group that hunts the opener every year, and although they got some birds, it was far from last year’s total of 300 dove for the large group. “It was either a bad hatch, or the birds have not flown down from Oregon and Washington,” he said.

Tim Boggs of Elkhorn Outdoor Sports said he didn’t hear many dove reports from the Sacramento area, but received several phone calls the day before the opener, and on opening day from hunters looking for shotgun shells. “I had a lot of people call saying they can’t find steel shot in 7 and 8,” Boggs said. “As far as success, I haven’t heard of anyone coming into the shop saying how they did.”

Bill Driessen took some clients out to gravel bars on the Sacramento River and didn’t have a very good report from the hunters he took out: “The guys just texted me. They’ve shot 3 boxes of shells, crippled 9 birds and have found 2. Ah, the joy of conservation with the incredible wonder of steel shot! Now everyone can cripple and lose their birds because they can’t bring them down properly.”

As expected, reports from the Central Valley were more promising, and Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun reported good early action in the citrus groves near Sanger while others walking the fields in the foothills found limited action.

JOSH FONTENOT, 23, of San Bruno hunted in Willows with his dad, WON Field Reporter Andre Fontenot, and together they bagged 11 dove shooting an orchard near Willows.

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