Hunt around suburbs for doves
Dove numbers up
The wires had more birds on them today.
That’s the word from many dove scouts who have been out in force lately in advance of Tuesday’s Illinois dove hunting season opener.
Bird numbers have seemed to pick up this week through much of central and northern Illinois. Whether those birds will stay through what is forecast to be a cold weekend remains to be seen.
Then too, there are expected to be fewer young doves around no matter what the weather between now and opening day. Banding samples indicate there were just 1.42 young doves per adult this year, down from 1.64 last year and well below the 2006 total of 3.05 young per adult.
That 2006 total is significant since that year was the best harvest in Illinois in the past decade.
Clean, seedy sunflower fields make a difference. So does camouflage and good shooting.
But as hunters prepare for Tuesday’s dove season opener in Illinois, it’s interesting to learn that another key to success in dove hunting is hunting near suburban areas. At least that’s what you might conclude based on a look at the top dove-hunting counties in Illinois.
Atop the list for a five-year average of harvest from 1999-2003 are Madison County (77,200 doves) and St. Clair County (40,000)—both of which are suburban St. Louis counties in southwestern Illinois.
“My theory is the best dove production areas are suburbia,” said Ray Marshalla, state waterfowl biologist who also oversees the dove program. “Typically most of the doves we see are near urban areas or near a river system. In general I think those are the best areas.”
Here’s a look at other top counties based on the average harvest from 1999-2003.
Illinois’ top dove counties
- 1. Madison 77,200
- 2. St. Clair 40,000
- 3. Clinton 33,400
- 4. Jersey 28,001
- 5. Logan 28,000
- 6. Sangamon 27,300
- 7. Mason 26,953
- 8. Cass 26,400
- 9. Greene 25,400
- 10. Hancock 25,400
- 11. Henry 25,300
- 12. Christian 24,700
- 13. Tazewell 24,459
- 14. Will 24,000
- 15. Franklin 23,400
- 16. Adams 23,000
- 17. Fulton 22,000
Overall, Illinois is one of the top dove-hunting states in the country according to Marshalla. He said Illinois is the No. 2 dove harvest state east of the Mississippi River in 2007.
Dove season this year runs Sept. 1 to Oct. 31 and then again from Nov. 7-15. Hours are sunrise to sunset and the daily bag limit is 15 birds.