Weather Updates

Good early prospects for doves

Updated: November 16, 2011 1:30AM

Over the last week for my writing tasks, I drove the countryside of all Chicago-area counties
and didn’t see a single
cornfield close to ready for picking. The Illinois Crop Progress and Condition Report had corn harvest at 1 percent through Sunday. I assume that’s all in southern Illinois.

That will be the single greatest factor as hunting begins in earnest this week. The first dove and the early Canada goose seasons open Thursday. Teal season opens Saturday.

Remember to have your HIP number and waterfowl stamps. The feds approved Illinois’ proposed waterfowl seasons and zones, so the waterfowl-hunting booklet is online at
(click on hunting).

I’ve seen doves everywhere across the area, especially by weedy fallow fields, dry ditches with mixed weeds or picked vegetable fields. Those will be the places to hunt on private land. Public sites have variable sunflower conditions and dove reports (see accompanying box).

Other than being hot — hunters will have to decide to leave their dogs at home or lug gallons of water — Thursday and Friday look good for dove hunting.

According to figures from state waterfowl biologist Ray Marshalla, doves seen and call counts were within range of recent years. That is important because 88 percent of doves shot in Illinois in the last four years were banded here.

What is odd, considering the stable dove populations in Illinois for decades, is the decline in estimated harvest the last three years: 997,917 in 2008, 873,182 in 2009 and 668,547 last year. Compare that with 1,479,709 doves in 2005.

◆ With crops in the fields, hunting options are limited for the early goose season, which runs through Sept. 15.

‘‘The only places you will do well is with a residential lawn out of city limits, a golf course where you have permission to hunt or over [harvested] winter wheat,’’ said guide Jeff Norris of Fox Valley Guide Service.

He also suggested checking field areas opened up from crop failure caused by the excessive moisture of this spring and summer.

◆ The weather change Friday night might bode well for teal hunters. Aerial waterfowl surveys were planned this week, but results weren’t available at deadline. Populations are good. Blue-winged breeding populations were at an all-time high (8.9 million) in North America; green-winged (2.9 million) were the fifth-highest.

Places and faces

John Kidd Jr. needs volunteer fishing help for Fishin’ Buddies! and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County’s annual fishing derby Sept. 17 at Wampum Lake. E-mail him at .  .  . Dave Keyser of Oak Lawn was second ($3,000) on the co-angler side of the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour event on Lake Oahe out of Pierre, S.D. .  .  . Wednesday is the last day of bullfrog season. .  .  . On Monday, Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Purple Paint Law, which gives landowners the option of marking ‘‘no trespassing’’ with purple paint.

Wild things

Two fishermen at Skokie Lagoons were worried after counting up to 20 cormorants. Forest Preserve District of Cook County fisheries biologist Jim Phillips said: ‘‘This time of year, they gather to go south. They are opportunistic feeders and go after the most abundant species in a lake.’’

At Skokie, that’s shad.

‘‘There will be a bunch [of cormorants] at Tampier and Saganashkee Slough, too,’’ Phillips said. ‘‘They’ll be here a few weeks, then go south.’’

He said he’s not worried about their impact on fishing.

Stray cast

Chester Taylor reminds me of a round goby tossed into the lakefront grass, with a gull waddling toward him.

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