Hunting Report

San Jacinto: SoCal dove opener so-so

Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Sep 04, 2019

SAN JACINTO — Jason Mathiot of Moreno Valley hunted one of the Desert Wildlife Unlimited fields in the north end of the Imperial Valley opening morning. He, his wife Selena, and his son Conner and they bagged 28 doves opening morning, including five white-wings. Mathiot said Conner also got his first white-wing on the hunt. He was hunting field ND310.

connormathiotCONNER MATHIOT OF Moreno Valley shot his first white-wing dove hunting on one of the Desert Wildlife Unlimited fields in the Imperial Valley on opening morning.

John Coleman of Riverside also hunted one of the DWU fields, M18.

“I’ve hunted M18 for the last four years with just a handful of other hunters every year, with no problem getting limits. I knew it was a bad sign when I scouted last weekend and found at least 1,000 birds feeding in that field. More than I had ever seen.

“Well, opening morning my fears materialized when I pulled up to the field and saw 20-plus cars in the dark. Turned out to be at least 35ish hunters in that small field. My honey hole was not a hidden gem anymore. It all worked out OK though — we limited out by about 7:30. I suspect about half the other hunters did too. I noticed them stop shooting as the birds continued to roll in.

“I took a co-worker who had never hunted dove before and he managed seven birds, but went through six boxes of shells to do it. So the targets were there for everyone if you could hit them. We left at 9 a.m. and there were still birds coming in sporadically, even with the heat,” said Coleman.

IMPERIAL VALLEY — At the San Jacinto Wildlife Area in western Riverside County, there were 141 hunters opening morning and they shot a total of 177 doves for a 1.3 birds-per-hunter average, accord­ing to Tom Trakes with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The wildlife area attracts a lot of new hunters, either first-time dove hunters or hunters new to the area, and most of those posted scores of zero or one bird, while those who scouted or hunt the area regularly had from three to eight doves, depending on shooting skill and spot.

Jim Matthews, longtime WON contributor, hunted San Jacinto with longtime friend Mike Anderson of San Bernar­dino, and they both ended up with three birds each.

“If I shot better, I would have ended up with at least 10 or 12 birds, and judging by the amount of gunfire around the area, I apparently wasn’t the only one doing my share of missing,” said Matthews.

Matthews said the birds he cleaned were all filled with dove weed seeds, indicating the doves haven’t even found the grain crops mowed recently at the wildlife area.

“I suspect the area will continue to aggregate more birds in the coming days, which should keep the area producing at least a few birds through the first half of the season,” said Matthews.

WON Field Reporter Jim Mathews contributed to this report.

MIKE ANDERSON OF San Bernardino didn’t shoot his first bird on opening morning until nearly 7 a.m. at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area but he ended up with three doves for the morning.

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