Lonesome doves: Season opens with game birds hard to find

Lake Havasu City resident Mike Hulsey wasn’t seeing many doves, so he decided to take aim at one of the decoys. Of course, the shotgun was unloaded. (DON MARTIN/For the Miner)

Lake Havasu City resident Mike Hulsey wasn’t seeing many doves, so he decided to take aim at one of the decoys. Of course, the shotgun was unloaded. (DON MARTIN/For the Miner)

Rad Green told me not to expect much action at a local stock tank where I have hunted opening day of the annual dove season for over 20 years.

But I sure didn't expect to see such a low number of birds.

My opening day hunting buddies included Kingman resident John Schmidt and Lake Havasu resident Mike Hulsey.

Rad told me that he and his wife, Sandy, had sat at the pond last Saturday for over two hours and had seen a grand total of five birds.

But since I was in the Meadview area for business, my buddies and I decided that we would give it a try.

We arrived at the pond around 7 a.m. and it was warm with a steady wind of about 15 miles per hour.

The first hour was fairly uneventful; we didn't see even one dove.

Finally a pair of Eurasian collared doves came by and took a look at my decoys spread, which we had sitting on a fence.

Mike fired twice and down one bird went. The other one flew away, but came back by a minute later to see where his buddy was. He joined his friend for a dirt nap as a result of a shot from my 20-gauge Browning Citori.

I figured the birds would start pouring in as it got hotter, just like they have done in years past.

But this year was different. Just an occasional bird or two came in.

What was surprising was that despite the fact I hadn't done any practice before the hunt opened, I shot well. Matter of fact, before our morning ended, I fired a total of six shots and put five doves in the dirt. And one of the doves I got, I actually shot twice!

Mike managed to put three doves in the bag, while John, who was shooting a new gun, put a pair in the ice chest.

We met another hunter at the pond, a real friendly guy from Kingman named Greg. He had arrived before us and had taken some birds. By the end of the shooting he had seven in his bag.

Thinking that Mike and I didn't have enough birds to make a good meal, we decided to donate our eight birds to Mike.

Those eight birds gave him a total of 15, which is the daily bag limit.

I later found out that Jay Chan had hunted closer to town and had managed to bag eight birds, while Rad and his friend Mike had done OK, with Rad getting five while Mike got a pair.

Golden Valley resident Ryan Borden went out after school, and he managed to get seven birds, though he admitted he had missed a lot of birds. Borden went out after school on the second day of the season, and while he said he saw a lot of birds, he only got a couple.

But while things were bleak for hunters in the Kingman area, hunters in the Mohave Valley area did quite well.

Jim Rich, who is a chief instructor for the Arizona Hunter Education program in the Kingman area, hunted with a couple of his friends in fields in Mohave Valley.

Rich said there were lots of birds down there, and he had a limit by 7:30 a.m.

His other friends also did well.

So I would say that if you are still interested in hunting doves, as the season is open until the 15th, you might want to go down to Mohave Valley.

Due to other commitments, I wasn't able to go out for another crack at these desert speedsters, but I might give them a try later as there is a second season.

That season opens up on Nov. 26 and stays open until Jan. 9.