By CURT HICKEN
The dove season opener (Sept. 1) is, once again, nearly upon us. And as in the past, area hunters will find numerous public sites offering excellent gunning for these fast-flying targets. Early reports indicate large numbers of doves congregating at many of the public hunting areas throughout the River Bend. This can only mean exciting opening-day action!
Veteran dove hunters often spend as more time traveling the back roads searching for concentrations of doves as they actually do hunting. Fresh cut silage (though rare) and recently harvested wheat fields also serve as huge dove magnets. Feeding doves will swarm to these areas during the late afternoon and evening hours.
Gaining access to these types of hunting lands can be fairly simple if the landowners are approached in a appropriate manner. In fact, many times the landowners may also wish to join in on the hunt.
Good action can also be found at many federal and state managed public hunting areas. Most of the top public hunting areas offer gunning over carefully groomed sunflower fields. As even better news, most public hunting areas are reporting good to excellent stands of sunflowers. There are a few, due to a late planting, that may be less than ripe by the season opener.
Though regulations at many public sites require permits for the first few days of the season, a limited number of standby opportunities are usually available. In addition, many sites offer hunting on a first-come or daily draw basis after the opening-day crowds disappear.
Rules at most public hunting areas permit hunters to use only shotgun shells containing shot sizes 7 1/2, 8 or 9, or number 6 or smaller steel. Hunters using shells containing bismuth shot must use size 7 1/2 or smaller.
Some areas including Des Plaines, Green River, Horseshoe Lake State Park, Kankakee River, Mount Vernon Game Farm, Sangchris Lake and Silver Springs also require the use of shells containing only non-toxic shot. Hunters should always check for site specific regulations before planning a trip to any public hunting area.