First half of dove season opens Sept. 1

By: George DeVilbiss
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Included among the beginning of the various shotgun seasons is dove hunting next Wednesday. As has been the rule for some years now, it will be a split season. The first half of the season is 15 days. The second half is in December, but not many Northern California hunters go strictly dove hunting, as other seasons are in effect at the time and there just aren’t many birds around. The dove is a warm-weather bird. It migrates to stay in warmer climates. The weather pattern we’ve had this summer and, in particular, the month of August, is going to make for an interesting opener. Although there has been a brief period of toasty weather this week, it has been considerably cooler than normal. I’ve seen a decrease in dove numbers around where I live. Will there be birds on which to level the shotgun? There are always birds. The question is whether there will be enough birds to even have the possibility of limiting? For the most part, dove start the day early, and every year, I hear the crack of shotguns even before legal shooting times. Generally, the first hour at the crack of dawn will provide some of the best shooting times. That means don’t plan on sleeping in and think you’re going to have any kind of a decent shoot. I dumped a couple of birds early last year, and then the action went downright dead. Just about everybody in the field left, and I was left there by myself. Between 9 and 10 a.m., the birds really started flying, an unusual occurrence. It was groups instead of singles, and I was able to limit. So sometimes, it’s just a big waiting game. Don’t become complacent and discouraged. Quit scanning the sky, and when you least expect it, one or a group of birds will scoot right by you. It never fails. Most hunters de-feather their birds in the field so they aren’t fighting flying feathers everywhere at home. Only mourning doves are allowed in the bag. In case a warden comes by and checks you for a license and the birds in your possession, be sure to leave one wing fully intact for identification. Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset. The bag limit is the usual 10 birds per day and 20 in possession. All you need is a hunting license with the upland game bird stamp, along with what you consider to be enough shells and a good mosquito repellant.