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Wednesday, August 29, 2018
What’s new afield
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
X Zone Mule Deer Hunting Forecase

Dove opener just fine, but birds scattered
Thousands of dove hunters showed up in the Imperial Valley for opening weekend of dove season and they were not disappointed in the number of birds winging over most all of the vast desert valley. Daytime temperatures on Friday nearly reached 110 degrees, which made for pretty poor scouting conditions as dove were reluctant to leave the shade of nearby roost trees.

Mother Nature cooperated the following morning after temps cooled down over night and the entire valley woke up to clear skies with temps holding at just under 80 degrees for most of the morning . Western Outdoor News didn’t have a chance to scout prior to opening morning, as there was a Combat Marine Outdoors event in Brawley hosted by Brandt Beef, Osterkamp Farms and the Fleming family. A group of some 35 wounded veterans were honored at the Stockmen’s Club and then guided to an awesome mourning dove hunt at Brandt Beef Farms.

LIMITED ON DOVE AND MORE — Gus Osterkamp of Tustin shot well on opening day of dove season while hunting alongside a stand of salt cedar. There were very few white-winged dove flying, but lots of mature mourning dove. In addition to bagging his limit of mourning dove, Osterkamp topped off his morning shoot with three big Eurasian collared dove. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

Just prior to sunrise the entire valley echoed with sounds of many shotgun blasts across the desert floor. Our group of hunters had checked in to the Best Western (Brawley) and it was loaded with dove hunters. The staff had set up a cleaning station on the back parking lot and there was plenty of ice available.

WON checked in with a number of hunters after the morning hunt and there were mixed reports from those who had hunted as far north as the Farm Fields of Niland clean on down to some of the fallow farm wheat fields above El Centro. The consensus for the morning shoot was that there were plenty of birds flying but they were scattered. Also, many hunters commented on the lack of white-winged dove and fewer Eurasians dove feeding in fallow grain fields.

John Summers of Riverside, and his brother Bill, hunted the Upland Game Bird fields north of Calipatria using a map they picked up at the hotel. “There was a lot of hunting pressure on all of the fields. I think at our first field there were hunters surrounding the entire field, thus not giving the birds a chance to land. There was some friendly fire and hunting was tough. After harvesting 5 doves, our party decided to find another less crowded field. Finally, at about 8 a.m. we located a field off Hazard Rod and finished our limits of mostly mourning dove and a couple of Eurasian collared dove, but NOwhite-winged dove,” said Summers.

WON teamed up with Gus Osterkamp of Tustin and Mark Osterkamp of Brawley for a hunt to the east of Brawley along the flowing East Highline Canal. The hunt started off slow with just a few birds winging low over salt cedar brush, but after the sun got up a few little mixed flocks of mourning and Eurasian dove winged well within shotgun range along an established flyway. Fifteen-bird limits were bagged by 8:30 and the morning hunt ended with a handful of high flying Eurasian collared dove bagged.

John Massie of Ramona hunted on My Country Club leased ranch property around Lake Henshaw and filed the following report with WON:

“It was limit shooting for most hunters shooting over fallow grain fields, stubble or around a water hole. I shot a limit, but due to heavy cover was only able to find 7 mourning dove. Many hunters commented about the lack of white-winged dove and Eurasian dove in this northern part of San Diego County. My biological background would indicate that those big thunderstorms that hit this area last week, moved that species of dove south. Most of the birds that I shot were harvested after 8 a.m., likely due to cooler morning temperatures and plenty of food available nearby,” said Massie.

Massie added the following, “Just before sunset, on my home, I bumped a flock of a couple hundred dove, so there is definitely a migration in progress. My suggestion would be for hunters to spend some time scouting and then look ahead to the second half of the dove season.

Dove hunting was very slow at the San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge, located near Lakeview in Riverside County. According to the opening day report filed by Thomas Trakes, Wildlife Specialist for the refuge, there were a total of 162 hunters who headed out across the huge refuge but hunting was extremely difficult. There were only 98 dove harvested for a per-gun average of 0.6 per gun.

Dove hunters enjoyed pretty darn good mourning dove hunting is some spots of Riverside County for the Saturday shoot. Many limits were bagged, but more than half of those checked by WON had only about 5 to 8 birds for the morning hunt, but were hopeful that the evening flight might produce more birds bagged. An overcast sky and some drizzle made dove hunting in the county very tough for the Sunday shoot.

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