Dove hunters will have increased possession limits, more opportunity

When dove season opens on September 1, California hunters will have more liberal possession limits, an expanded season on Eurasian doves in Imperial County, and better public land hunting opportunities for this year’s season.

The possession limit will be increased from 20 to 30 doves this season, while the daily bag limit remains 10 doves per day. This means that after the third day of the season, hunters will be allowed to have 30 doves in the freezer, but they still may not shoot more than 10 per day under any circumstances. The same rule was adopted in Arizona.

As the population of non-native Eurasian collared doves continues to increase, the state Fish and Game Commission also approved a year-around season on Eurasian doves in Imperial County, making them like barnyard pigeons that can be shot all year with no limit. In the rest of the state, hunters can only shoot Eurasians during the regular dove season, but there is no limit. Arizona has a year-around season and no limit for the whole state on Eurasians.

But the biggest news is that the public land hunting fields in the Imperial Valley are in much better condition this year and all are holding good numbers of both mourning and whitewing doves this week, and for the first time in two seasons, the Palo Verde Ecological Reserve near Blythe again has fields planted with wheat and milo for dove and other birds. These two regions generally attract the most dove hunters each year, and both were just fair the last two season openers. This season’s hunting is expected to be very good.

Leon Lessica, with Desert Wildlife Unlimited which manages the Imperial County fields, was excited about this season. “Boy, the doves are just thick. I just hope the birds hold,” said Lessica. He also said the desert birds looked better than they have in several years, indicating the local bird production was up significantly this year, too.

David Baker, with the DFW in Blythe, said the fields on the north end of the ecological reserve were holding “10,000 whitewings ñ maybe more ñ it’s just black with birds.” Baker said they had just thrashed the milo this week and birds from all over the valley were zeroing in on those feed fields.

OTHER BIRD HUNTING REGULATION CHANGES: The Fish and Game Commission adopted changes to the upland bird and waterfowl regulations at its most recent meeting Aug. 7. The most significant change for bird hunters was the increase in the possession limit to three times the daily bag. The new possession limit applies to quail, chukar, sooty or blue grouse, band-tailed pigeons, snipe, and waterfowl. For example, hunters may now have 30 quail in possession after three days of hunting. The daily bag limit will remain 10 birds. Hunting seasons for all species are the same as 2013 in the southern half of California.

WHERE-TO-GO BIRD HUNTING SEMINARS: The last of my 2013 public land dove and upland bird hunting seminars are coming up this coming week. For hunters who don’t know where to go for this fall, these sessions are a trove of information. The seminars answer the number one question from new and veteran hunters: Where can I go hunting?”

The seminars give hunters the tools to find literally hundreds of public land spots in this region. Each session covers what maps to use so hunters know they are hunting legally. They provide information on how to find desert water sources ñ from springs to stock tanks, to game bird guzzlers. They direct hunters to specific locations where I have found good bird numbers. All of this information can optimize hunter’s scouting time and make him a more successful bird hunter. Because this season’s seminars are all being held just before this year’s dove season opener, I will also be covering dove hunting tactics and public land hunting spots, not just quail and chukar.

The final August seminars will be held at the following times and locations:

— 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22 at Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga.

— 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Aug. 24 at Turner’s Outdoorsman in Fountain Valley.

— 3-5 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 25 at Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga.

Each seminar costs $50 per person and includes a trial two-issue subscription to my Western Birds newsletter and a comprehensive hand-out package with all of the top public land dove hunting spots in the region. All members of the same household are included in the $50 price. Seating is very limited and pre-registration is recommended at all locations.

For more information about the seminars or to register, call my office at 909-887-3444 or visit (go to “seminars”) for more information or a registration flyer that can be filled out and e-mailed, faxed, or returned by mail.

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