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Slow start to Illinois dove season

September 01, 2010 at 12:38 PM

After the rain stopped Wednesday morning, we kept waiting for the doves to fly. It’s one day later we’re still waiting.

So are most other dove hunters who took to the field for Illinois’ first wingshooting season.

Aside from a few hotspots, hunters reported below-average shooting on public and private ground. In fact, totals from many state sites rank as the worst in recent memory.

How bad was it?

Normal 800-dove spot Snakeden Hollow managed just 11 birds for 42 hunters. Jubilee had 19 doves for 17 hunters. The Hennepin Canal had 12 doves for 29 hunters. And those hunters averaged 10 shots per bird.

So it went.

“I’ve never seen it this bad,” said Stan Weimer, who runs the Mackinaw River area where 50 hunters shot 68 birds. “Some people think (the doves are) spread out with the seed corn and the pumpkins and popcorn coming out. I don’t know. I just don’t think we have many doves.”

Certainly that was true in the field hunted by The Farmer and me. Despite abundant weed seeds, bare dirt and water, we managed just six birds. That’s a far cry from last year.

Worse yet, the Canada geese we hoped for never materialized. The real highlight was seeing a flock of teal that buzzed so close Farmer said, “I could see their eyes.”

But the lack of doves was no shock. Since mid-August, grey ghosts have been scarce in my corner of Peoria County. Our only flocks are haunting cut silage fields, picked corn fields and the few weed-free sunflower fields around.

Even clean sunflowers didn’t help as much as usual for the opener, though.

Jim Edgar-Panther Creek had fantastic flowers. Weedless. Mature. Seedy. And while the total of 840 doves for 137 hunters sounds OK, it’s the second-worst on record for JEPC. Not that you’ll get any sympathy from guys who hunted other state sites: Banner Marsh 64 doves, 2.1 dph; Mautino 80, 1.3; Double T 144, 1.29.

“Most of the people I’ve talked to who had doves said they left,” said Mike Wickens, JEPC manager. “I haven’t heard any reports of people killing a lot of doves.”

That said, there were bright spots. There always are, even in a bad year. Matthiessen State Park’s clean fields paid off with 1,417 doves for 138 hunters and an area-best 10.3 doves per hunter.

A strong stand of sunflowers also helped Johnson-Sauk Trail rack up 627 birds for 70 hunters, who took a shoulder-bruising 3,500 shots. “They were shooting for five hours straight,” site manager Melinda Kitchens said. That hot streak extended to Thursday when 46 hunters shot 200 birds.

Private land hunters generally fared better, though not without some work.

“We’ve shot about 60 in two days but it’s not been very good for most people down here,” said guide Jason Johns, who hunts near Benton. “And I heard Ten Mile Creek (a normally productive southern Illinois public area) was terrible.”

“Doves were very hard to find around Springfield as well,” wrote waterfowl biologist Ray Marshalla, who doubles as a dove hunting fanatic. “I finally found them after 200 miles, 50 phone calls and several scouts but otherwise I would have had a bad hunt too.  We shot limits in cornfields two days in a row.”

Ed Oest hunted a normally productive field with three friends. The party managed just eight birds and, “all of them were adults” Oest said.

Here are totals from several north and central Illinois public areas.

Opening Day Public Site totals

Banner Marsh: 30 hunters, 64 doves, weedy fields and no birds

Chain O’Lakes: 17 hunters, 33 doves

Des Plaines: 90 hunters, 347 doves

Double T: 112 hunters, 144 doves, no limits despite decent field conditions

Hennepin Canal: 29 hunters, 12 doves, 123 shots

Iroquois County: 58 hunters, 483 doves, big crowd for state’s reigning champ in terms of dove-per-hunter average, good fields, 10 limits

Jim Edgar-Panther Creek: 137 hunters, 840 doves, excellent fields, totals should be better today since the even-numbered fields are holding more birds (they rotate fields here)

Johnson-Sauk Trail: 70 hunters, 627 birds, 3,500 shots, fields in excellent condition and non-stop shooting for five hours at this morning draw site

Jubilee College: 19 hunters, 17 doves, decent fields

Lake Shelbyville: West Okaw—98 hunters, 1,168 doves; Kaskaskia—30 hunters, 36 doves

Mackinaw River: 50 hunters, 68 doves, weedy fields, birds left

Matthiessen: 138 hunters, 1,417 doves, good field conditions

Mautino: 60 hunters, 80 doves, 425 shots fired, 5.3 per bird

Mazonia: 21 hunters, 14 doves

Sangchris Lake: No complete totals, but 21 of 30 hunters in Field 1 shot limits, averaging 12 birds per man. In Field 2, 5 of 20 hunters shot limits with an average of 10 dph

Shabbona Lake: 50 hunters, 90 doves

Silver Springs: 92 hunters, 28 doves

Snakeden Hollow: 42 hunters, 11 doves, most fields weedy but even a very good, burned wheat field produced almost no doves

More reports to come…

 

 

 

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

i tell you what we had doves all over down here in southern illinois till a few cooler nights and they were gone

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/01 at 02:51 PM

Hunted Snakeden Hollow this afternoon…in 3 hrs, saw 3 doves and was able to shoot 1. Talking to the guys at the checkstation, there we 2 birds killed out of our field and about the same out of the other fields if they killed anything at all. Pretty disappointing!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/01 at 05:18 PM

Did anyone hunt at fox ridge sp and how did you do?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/01 at 05:30 PM

My opner was a bust. uggggghh!

Jim Edgar had a few limits checked in. The hunters all reported the bird count is low. Maybe this cool weather will bring them down.

Jeff,
Hang in there buddy. At least you got to pull the trigger today. That is more than me.

Jodie

Posted by archernut_ibs on 09/01 at 07:10 PM

Did anyone hunt at fox ridge sp and how did you do?

Posted by CAMOMAN on 09/01 at 05:30 PM…....i live not far from there, heard quite a bit of shooting.but don’t know if they did any killing..

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/01 at 07:12 PM

For me dove season has never been anything close to what it’s cracked up to be. Tons of em sitting on the phone wires in town. Get out into the field and spend 3+ hours in 90 degree heat sweating my a$$ off and I’m lucky to see 2 fly overhead with no shot. I learned to pick up a different hobby real quick. But that means more doves for the rest of you - good luck!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/01 at 08:10 PM

Hunted Ray Norbut.  Not near as many birds as I saw there on Saturday. Sat in the rain to start.  Limited.  Can’t complain.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/01 at 09:02 PM

My uncle lives in Champaign and hunted Fox Ridge this morning. I text him around 9 and he said it was very slow. Haven’t spoke to him after that tho.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/01 at 09:22 PM

Hey guys sorry you don’t have doves. They are all in Mo. Went to ten mile pond this morning.They had appr. 220 hunters and I would say most everybody kiled their limit. The only ones who did’nt ran out of shells or just couldn’t hit one. I would say they killed 2000 or so. 7 of us hunted together and killed our limits by 7:30. Couldn’t start shooting there until 6:30. It was great..

Posted by mallardsrule on 09/01 at 10:35 PM

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/01 at 10:39 PM

I’m not that far from Snake Den.  In my 25 years in this area, I listen to hunters getting excited about dove numbers in mid August, only to have a cold nights and cold rain drive them out.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/02 at 08:52 AM

It would be nice if dove season would start a week or two earlier here. We grow flowers on our farms and in several locations.  We have done so since the mids 1970’s. We have had some tremendous hunting over the years. However I can tell you that the past 7 or 8 years have been marginal at best, and this year was no exception. I don’t know if its the change in weather patterns but it seems like the birds build up sooner in August nowadays and typcially by Sept 1 are gone. We had a nice bunch of birds on Aug 20th and they have since headed south. We didn’t even bother hunting.  We are hoping that this cool front coming this weekend will bring us some new birds, but at this point it has more to do with luck than anything else.  The seed corn fields are coming out around us now and this typicaly scatters them and makes hunting even more difficult. Good luck to anyone who ventures out this weekend.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/02 at 09:30 AM

Ten Mile Pond is in southern Missouri, right?  Had a friend that hunted LaBelle Lake Conservation Area in Missouri yesterday.  He said he only killed six and that he doubted if anyone limited.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/02 at 10:38 AM

Any news on Edward Madigan Park? Hunted in logan Co Wed evening with grandson and another. We shot 30 doves total and my grandson went through 2 boxes in 2.5 hours. He had a blast.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/02 at 02:11 PM

“Hennepin Canal: 29 hunters, 12 doves, 123 shots”

Is that a typo? How can they only kill one dove for every ten shots?

Posted by illin on 09/02 at 02:14 PM

Was at Jim Edgar yesterday..

Was not nearly as good as last year. I still managed 8 doves. There were several Limits on the field I was in. Birds seemed to be flying high and fast. But as everyone else has said if it would have been a week or two ago we would have nailed them good…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/02 at 02:33 PM

Illini fan… I’m a lincolnite and very new to hunting.  You can hunt Ed Madigan park? Not to sound dumb, but what do i need to do to hunt doves there?  Thanks for the help

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/02 at 03:58 PM

How was day 2 at Johnson-Sak Trail??  Thinking about heading up Friday morning, but it is 1hr 15 min drive for me.  Don’t know if I should waste the time.  Any info would be appreciated!  Thanks!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/02 at 04:18 PM

Day two at Johnson Sauk was 46 hunters for 200 birds. Morning hunting. Fields very good.

Posted by Jeff Lampe on 09/02 at 04:42 PM

Thanks Jeff! I appreciate the quick response too!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/02 at 04:47 PM

Thank you Murdy!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/02 at 06:17 PM

Day 2 at Greenriver was a bust ! Hunted 2 hrs. never saw a bird . On the 1st. they only managed 284 birds . Called Bigbend they only shot 340 on the opener . Terrible for both spots . They both avg. at least 1000 on a bad year but this is crazy !!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/02 at 07:17 PM

Professionalemergencyfisherman,Yes, there is dove hunting at Madigan Park. First 5 days are permit only and then first come ,first served after. They hav about 30 acres of sunflowers. Call Ron or Jeff at the park and they will be happy to fill you in. Phone # is 732-1552. Hope this helps and good shooting!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/03 at 08:17 AM

Hunted Big River by Keithsburg opening day. I killed 7, brother 3, dad 3, friend 6. Least amount of shooting I have ever heard there. Workers there said rain the night before moved them out.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/03 at 01:31 PM

Ten Mile Pond is in southern Missouri, right?  Had a friend that hunted LaBelle Lake Conservation Area in Missouri yesterday.  He said he only killed six and that he doubted if anyone limited.

Posted by brdchaser on 09/02 at 10:38 AM
Ten mile Pond is in southeast Mo. Near East Prairie. I don’t know where LaBelle is at but they had the Doves where I was. When the Boss man gave his speech before you go out, he said they were holding close to 5000+ birds. They had 6 20 to 30 acre sunflower fields and several cut corn fields to shoot. I have hunted there the last four years and killed my doves. Its a good place to go but it can be crowded.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/03 at 11:05 PM

Heading to Silver Springs to hunt noon to five today despite the discouraging results.  Hopefully this weather has moved some birds around.  Will report back with results.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/04 at 06:47 AM

Sorry to hear all the bad reports. We burned up our barrels first two nights where we hunt. 7 of us hunting both nights and with the early cloud cover we had good shooting for an hour before quiting time! It was as close to Argentina as it gets! Clouds of doves coming into roost early. WOW. That’s all I can say about it. Fryin fish, turtle and grilling dove kabobs tomorrow. Might hunt again Monday but I’m gonna have to find a kid to hand me a gun while he loads the other and runs a clicker. Good luck to all!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/04 at 11:40 AM

Had a great shoot Fri. night, best Ive had in yrs.
JEPC sucked opening day. Thursday was a little better in some private flowers in Knox county. Friday night those same flowers were getting swarmed by large flock after flock. it was a blast!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/04 at 05:14 PM

Silver Springs was horrible.  Saturday shot @ 4, killed 1.  Hunted geese Sunday morning, got 1.  Back to Silver Springs, flushed 2 birds on the walk out and didn’t see another all day.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/07 at 12:03 PM

Saw some poor sap with a white T-shirt on sitting in Buckhorn’s weeds tonight. I bet his gun didn’t need cleaned when he went home.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/09 at 11:22 PM

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