Dale Bowman’s prediction (in order) of opening-day success Sunday at area public sites:
Iroquois County SWA: Good sunflowers, good birds; draw will be packed.
Matthiessen SP: Good sunflowers; always top site (remember switch to no lead).
Silver Springs SFWA: Good mowed fields, some doves.
Des Plaines CA: Sunflowers mowed twice, few fields with some ragweed, some birds.
Kankakee River SP: Good mowed fields; only 20 stakes.
Shabbona SP: Sunflowers green; south fields hit by tornado.
Marseilles SFWA: ‘‘Sunflowers got munched by deer,’’ so hunters will be able to roam.
Chain O’ Lakes SP: Years since much success.
Mazonia North: Sign-in at site office.
I put grilled dove breasts, wrapped in bacon with twin slivers of jalapenos, with quail and deer backstraps as the best eating of our local game.
Some things don’t change.
When it comes to doves, some things do change. Dove hunting opens Sunday in Illinois and many other states.
First, Eurasian collared-doves have become common enough that knowing the regulations is important. There is no bag limit on Eurasian collared-doves or ringed turtle doves, but they only may be hunted during the dove season in legal hours and hunters may not continue to hunt if they have filled their daily bag of 15 mourning and/or white-winged doves.
Second, nearly all public sites in northeast Illinois now require the use of steel or other non-toxic shot. Even Matthiessen State Park switched this year. As far as I know, Iroquois County State Wildlife Area and Marseilles State Fish and Wildlife Area are the only nearby sites that continue to allow lead shot for doves.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources recommends No. 6 or No. 7 steel shot (with shotgun chokes one size more open than typically used for lead) for doves. I switched to steel for doves years ago.
Jeff Wepprecht, the site superintendent at Silver Springs SFWA and Des Plaines Conservation Area, summed up local conditions fairly well: Sunflower fields have been mowed and will be mowed a second time this week, but not a ton of doves are being seen.
The spot with the most doves sighted is Iroquois. Considering that is a draw site (11 a.m.), I expect it to be packed with two or three times more hopeful hunters than the 45 to 50 stakes available. Once again, Matthiessen should challenge Iroquois as the top opening-day spot. Overall, the opener should make for packed sites.
Check for bands. Millions of doves are harvested annually, but there isn’t much nationwide data. Report bands to reportband.gov or call (800) 327-BAND (2263).
Heat will build by Sunday. Remember: headgear and hydrate.
Early goose season also opens Sunday. It might be tougher. The crop report Monday showed zero harvest of corn. Wetland program manager Randy Smith said they noticed fewer geese, especially along the Fox River, when banding. Nesting of local Canada geese took a major hit from major flooding in April, so there are fewer geese and a higher percentage of adults (smarter birds).
Places and faces
John Kidd Jr. needs volunteers experienced in kids and fishing for the Fishin’ Buddies! and Forest Preserve District of Cook County Fishing Derby on Sept. 14 in Lansing. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. . . . Joe Nega took second place on the co-angler side of the Walmart Bass Fishing League Michigan Division event on the Detroit River. He took first earlier this month on Lake St. Clair.
Check the evening skies. Common nighthawks are swooping all over — right on schedule.
The Cubs’ rebuilding plans feel like the quest for the Illinois-record smallmouth bass on Lake Michigan.