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Dove season opens at Jim Edgar-Panther Creek

September 02, 2009 at 07:06 AM

CHANDLERVILLE — Halfway from the parking lot to his hunting spot, Don Elmore sat down on a bucket to catch his breath and talk about his love of hunting and the outdoors.

“I’ve dove hunted all my life,” said Elmore, 70, of Kincaid. “And I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Elmore was among more than 150 hunters who had permits to hunt doves on opening day of the season Tuesday at the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area near Chandlerville.

Site superintendent Michael Wickens assigns hunters to pre-determined hunting positions – “stakes”—to be sure they are evenly spaced for safety.

He also reserves spots closest to the parking areas for older hunters.

“That’s a good deal,” Elmore said. “I couldn’t have made it much farther than that.”

Elmore has two arthritic knees and says walking long distances is difficult.

With about 120 permits issued in advance, only about 35 permits were left for hunters that showed up at the site Tuesday for a random drawing.

Site superintendent Michael Wickens said about half of the stand-by hunters got permits.

Hunters at Jim Edgar Panther Creek shot 4,928 doves last year, about one in 10 doves killed at public hunting sites statewide during the 2008 season.

Wickens said weather complicated efforts to get dove-hunting fields prepared and may hurt hunting success too.

Wickens says many sites were unable to get sunflowers planted in time, but the tenant farmer at Jim Edgar Panther Creek got them planted despite muddy conditions.

Cold and wet weather meant harvest was delayed until the last minute, and Wickens said he literally followed the combine, adding shooting stakes in the machine’s wake.

Recent cool weather probably got migration off to an early start, and many hunters said they feared many doves already had moved on.

But about 15 minutes before shooting hours commenced at noon, two flocks of a dozen or more birds flew overhead.

The first hour was slow, with few shots fired, but Elmore found a kindred spirit in hunter Jim Correll of Springfield, who was assigned a spot just a few yards away.

Soon the two were joking about all the equipment they needed to make the day more comfortable.

Elmore suggested an umbrella – painted in camouflage pattern, of course – to keep the midday sun off. Correll countered that Elmore probably would want a small refrigerator next.

Both men joked that the doves had little reason to fear their marksmanship skills.

“If they just knew that, they’d fly over here to be safe,” said Correll.

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