As dove season nears, fields are prepared

Photo Provided by Larry LaGrange
Dove fields, such as the one pictured at Glendale Fish & WIldlife Area in Daviess County, are in the process of being prepared for the opening weekend of dove hunting season which will take place on September 1 and 2.

Column by Larry LaGrange

The times when I’ve gotten the limit in any hunting venture are few. In my youth I’ve taken five squirrels at one time, but that was a rare feat. Growing up in Perry County, I seldom equaled my older relatives and friends who often got the limit, the hallmark of the successful hunter. At least that was my youthful impression.

I once limited out on doves. I found a private quarry that had a small pool of water in it. Birds were using the area for their grit and a bath or drink. Justin was about 10 or so, too young to carry a gun. Since there were no other hunters, his job was to walk around the pit to keep the birds flying so that I could get some shots. It worked to perfection, and yes, I made sure I knew where my son was before I shot.  I harvested 15 birds, took them home, cleaned them saving the breast and later had them for supper. They weren’t as tasty as quail, but they were palatable. I grilled them, and they were just OK. This game bird needs a little culinary assistance to taste good. A dove stew or casserole would be a good bet.

In my last column the dove situation at Patoka was discussed. This time it’s Glendale, another fine state property just north of us, also hosting a dove hunt.

Property manager Rob Sullender has been trying hard to get the sunflower fields ready for the opening weekend of September 1 and 2.

Last year, hunters harvested a little over 600 doves on the opening two days and 835 for the season. Turnout was around 50 hunters each day.

According to Sullender, 11 fields totaling about 60 acres were planted in early May.

“I think the dove numbers will be about the same as last year,” he said. “Rain prevented spraying of fields when weeds were optimum size. Once it was dry enough to enter the fields, they were sprayed with Beyond herbicide and later cultivated. The sunflowers matured and are now tipped over and drying. Weeds, mainly pigweed, dominate some fields and are still growing. Fields will be mowed in mid to late August to provide feeding areas for birds.”

Dove draws will be held September 1 and 2 at the check station at the lakeside office, starting at 7:30 a.m. You must be present to participate in the draw. Up to five hunters may be included in a party. A 50-shell limit of steel shot only will be enforced. Pick up your spent shells and trash.  Shooting hours for the first two days are until sunset. On September 3 and the remainder of the season, shooting hours are a half-hour before sunrise to sunset. A HIP registration and Game Bird Habitat Stamp are required. The HIP requirement is designed to help states improve harvest estimates for migratory game birds, thereby affecting seasons and bag limits. Go online at wildlife.in.gov/3567.htm or call 866-671-4499. The first part of the season runs to Oct. 14, then November 1-18 and December 8-January 4.

I recall hunting at Glendale in an area called Dove Hollow several years ago. Four or five hunters were working the large field, but one guy had “the spot.” He was in full camo standing in an area that concealed him well. He was right beneath the bird highway. I got some shots, but I’m pretty sure he filled his limit. A pre-hunt scouting trip to Glendale would be an excellent idea. Maybe you can find the right field and the right spot to be. There won’t be any stakes, unlike Patoka, but officials have figured the number of hunters per field based on a 40-yard spacing.

Make sure you follow good safety protocols when you dove hunt. Don’t shoot at low flying birds. If you’re fortunate enough to down a bird, put your gun on safety, lay your gun down carefully and keep your eyes glued to the spot where the bird went down. It helps to get some sort of visual marker or line. It’s often difficult to retrieve a dead bird, especially if you lose the line. Do not take your gun with you in fetching the downed bird. If there’s a lot of action you’ll be tempted to fire at another target. You don’t want two downed birds. Chances are you won’t find either of them.

Dove hunting is a great way to introduce youngsters to firearms. If you’re in the right spot, multiple chances to shoot are available. The trouble is hitting the target. Doves, especially when there’s quite a bit of hunter presence, can really speed along. So if you miss, no big deal. Another chance is coming along soon.




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