Dove season has strong beginning

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Dennis L. Clay

Although we have not received an official opening day of dove season results, reports have reached this desk indicating the opening was strong. Reports of limits, including a mixed bag of mourning doves and Eurasian collared doves.

Of course, the collared doves don’t count toward the daily limit of 15. Yes, the limit has been raised from 10 to 15 and the limit continues through Oct. 30 this year.

Here is what Fish and Wildlife has to say about the dove season this year:

Grant County was Washington’s top dove producing county in 2014. Dove hunters harvested 17,671 doves, up 10 percent from the 2013 harvest. Grant County recorded the highest dove harvest, with hunters bagging 15,744. Hunters harvested 1,927 doves in Adams County.

With an extra month of season and an increase to a 15 bird limit, dove hunting is expected to be very good in 2015. If conditions are stable, the birds found during scouting should be around during the hunt, but unstable conditions often redistribute birds significantly. Hunters may improve their success by securing access to wheat fields for the morning hunt.

Evening hunts can be productive in wheat fields or in traditional roosting areas. Look for large stands of trees adjacent to water and surrounded by agriculture for the best roost hunt results. Roost site hunting can be found along the north and west sides of Potholes Reservoir, the east side of Winchester Lake and throughout the Desert Unit of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area Complex.

Ephrata biologists planted four food plots to increase dove use and hunter opportunity for the 2015 hunting season. Fields were planted in sunflower, millet, and barley and total approximately 20 acres.

Two fields are located on the LCA Unit of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area just southeast of Moses Lake at the junction of Road 3 SE and Road X NE. The other two are located on the Royal Slope and are part of the Hunt by Reservation Program.

Fields will be mowed prior to and during the hunting season to provide a consistent food source that will attract doves and increase shooting opportunities.

Two-day youth season on Sept 19 and 20

The youth season for pheasant, partridge, quail, coot, duck and Canada goose will be the weekend of Sept 19 and 20. These youth hunts are great training for the youngsters. They are open to youth under 16 years of age and they must be accompanied by an adult who is at least 18 years old and who is not hunting. Take advantage of this opportunity.

Other hunting seasons opening in September and October will be discussed in future columns.

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