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Illinois hunting and fishing

Preparations for dove season underway at public sites

August 13, 2011 at 08:21 PM

A lot of preparation takes place in the weeks before the first hunter takes a padded seat on a five-gallon bucket and squints skyward in pursuit of doves.

“I’m beat,” said Michael Wickens, site superintendent at the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area near Chandlerville.

Wickens had just finished a long summer day burning wheat fields to prepare them for dove hunters.

Dove season opens Sept. 1.

But first, wheat must be “trickle burned,” Wickens says, so the kernels end up on the ground. If the fire gets too hot, the kernels of wheat can be consumed and nothing will be left to attract doves.

Keeping the controlled burn from getting too hot — even on a relatively cool summer day — is hot work.

“But doves like the bare ground,” he said, explaining the reason for burning off wheat fields.

In a couple of weeks, sunflower seeds will be harvested, with a few rows left to provide cover for hunters and doves alike.

Then Wickens will head out to stake out shooting positions.

Jim Edgar Panther Creek is perennially one of the state’s top public dove-hunting sites. Every year, Wickens finds his site in the top two or three.

“This year I was all excited,” he said. “We beat Horseshoe — which always beats us — and we beat Shelbyville — which always beats us — and then I looked in Region 5 and Pyramid beat us.

“We’ve never been first,” he said with a laugh.

Hunters at Jim Edgar Panther Creek killed 3,155 doves last season, good for second place behind Pyramid State Recreation Area’s 3,250.

Wickens said last year’s harvest was down at Jim Edgar Panther Creek.

“We killed over 3,000 doves but we usually kill that many the first couple of days,” Wickens said.

Statewide totals from public sites confirm his observation.

Overall, hunters killed 27,454 doves at public sites in 2010-2011, compared with 61,369 in 2009-2010 — down 55 percent.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says Illinois hunters overall killed 873,182 doves in 2009.

“Reproduction does seem to be up somewhat this year,” Wickens said. “I’m not seeing gobs of doves, but it does look better than last year.”

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the mourning dove is the most abundant game bird in North America.

Each year, hunters harvest about 20 million birds. The mourning dove population is estimated to be about 350 million, according to Cornell.

Illinois dove hunting season
First segment:
Sept. 1 – Oct. 31.
Second segment:
Nov. 5 - 13

Last year’s top 10 public dove-hunting sites

1. Pyramid State Recreation Area 3,250
2. Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area 3.155
3. Horseshoe Lake State Park 3,125
4. Matthiessen State Park 1,909
5. Sangchris Lake SFWA 1,709
6. Ten Mile Creek SFWA 1,502
7. Johnson-Sauk Trail SRA 1,054
8. Shelbyville State Fish and Wildlife Area 979
9. Peabody River King SFWA 976
10. Iroquois County State Fish and Wildlife Area 982

Statewide harvest totals at public sites:

2009 - 2010: 61,369
2010 – 2011: 27,454

Percent change: - 55 percent

Source: Illinois Public Hunting Areas Report


Chris Young can be reached at (217) 788-1528.

Copyright 2011 pjstar.com. Some rights reserved

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Mike Wickens and crew do a good job managing JEPC.  Look forward to my many trips there this fall and winter.

What did Siloam Springs do out at Buckhorn for dove this year?  Oh, that’s right.  Nothing!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/15 at 03:03 PM

what is up with siloam springs,they do nothing anymore.no food plots,no nothing,are they lazy or is something else going on?something needs to be done!where are my tax paying dollers going,and alot of them i might add.can someone tell me who to contact,i would appreciate it thanks.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/15 at 09:43 PM

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