OUTDOORS: Ten days until dove season

BILL WEHRLE, C-T/LCL Outdoors Sports Editor

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T/LCL Outdoors Sports Editor

It seems that time has flown by recently, and all of a sudden it’s only 10 days until Missouri’s fall hunting kickoff – the annual dove season beginning on Sept. 1.

After that, other fall seasons open regularly, with the early teal season on Sept. 11 the next to open. Local and area hunters who have been procrastinating on getting their gear together need to get moving or the seasons will start without them.

Our local weather has been erratic, with 90-degrees days interspersed with low 60s nights and dry weather interchanging with some pretty intense rainfall.

Doves might be as confused as I’ve been, as it doesn’t appear that there has been any migration of doves so far.

I’ve done some scouting, but the only doves I’ve seen are those that come to my bird feeders daily and likely never leave town. In one lengthy scouting trip a week ago, I saw zero doves during the entire trip. And I’d been checking out sunflower and harvested wheat fields, usually great locations to find doves.

With or without doves, the season will open on Sept. 1, so I’ll keep looking for a concentration of the sporty little birds and a place to hunt opening day.

I’ve missed very few opening days since I first started hunting doves after moving to Missouri over 50 years ago, coming south from living in states further north that had no dove season.

Until last year, I’d almost always been able to take a limit of doves on the opener. Last year wasn’t a very good dove year for me and, after a disappointing opening day, it got only worse. I recorded several zero dove trips before giving it up to hunt turkeys and ducks.

Early teal season opens Sept. 11, 10 days after the dove opener.

I’m hoping that teal will have migrated into the local area before then. I heard good news  last week when a local outdoorsman told me he’d already seen some small flocks of blue-wing teal at Fountain Grove. I saw teal last fall on Aug. 15 for the first time and it appears these recent birds may be on the same time schedule.

With plenty of water in our area wetlands, the local area should attract and hold some teal for the duration of the early season, which closes on Sept. 26.

I also heard some other good outdoor news just last week when another local outdoors person told me of seeing several hen turkeys with poults.

Maybe, despite all the weather hurdles they had to overcome, turkey hens had a good hatch this spring after several years of almost no reproduction. I don’t want to get our hopes up unnecessarily, but I’ve also heard of folks seeing several bunches of young quail.

The local Grand River Area Ducks Unlimited chapter will hold its 50th-anniversary banquet Sept. 18, a real milestone for DU and the local chapter.

There are very few Ducks Unlimited local chapters who can boast 50 years of banquets, and several special activities are planned for the celebration. Get your tickets early, because this will likely be a sellout.

(Bill Wehrle’s “Outdoors” column now appears in the C-T every Saturday and LCL every Monday)