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Posted on Sun, Sep. 05, 2004

Dove hunting spotty on opener


Outdoors Editor

Minnesota's first mourning dove season in nearly 60 years began Wednesday with mixed reports of success from around the state. Most hunters reported bagging a few birds, but few achieved their limits.

Kyle Thompson, owner of Prairie Land Management, a Glenwood-based habitat management company, arranged hunts for four groups in the Glenwood area. The groups of as many as five hunters bagged a total of 43 mourning doves with success depending on the habitat. One group reported seeing 200 birds and bagging 30 while hunting near a roost site. Another group, hunting in a cut wheat field, saw two doves and bagged none during the morning hunt.

Most hunters said thick early-morning fog put a damper on the day's hunt, and the weather became sultry and hot by late afternoon. Hunters who scouted in late August had reported seeing more birds than were reported on opening day. They attributed that to normal fall migration and to cold weather that might have pushed some birds out of the state.

Bill Marchel of Brainerd hunted near Chokio with two others, and they bagged eight birds. Marchel said he believes a lot of doves migrated early, suggesting to him that perhaps the season should be earlier.

"I think a lot of doves are calendar migrators, which means we should open the season in late August,'' he said. "I saw a lot birds while I was scouting that weren't there on opening day."

Rick Julian, a dove hunter profiled last Sunday in the Pioneer Press, said he took a limit of 15 doves on opening day. According to the Grand Forks Herald, Julian, the retired manager of the Rydell National Wildlife Refuge near Erskine, Minn., bagged his first dove at 7:02 am. Julian said the thick fog hampered his hunt as well.

The dove season continues through Oct. 30.

Good hunting predicted: South Dakota's pheasant population fell only slightly this summer, so managers there are predicting another banner season for ringneck hunters.

Last year's pheasant counts were the highest since 1963, and this year's counts were just 9 percent below last year. Like Minnesota, South Dakota suffered some pheasant chick losses because of cool, wet weather in June. The average number of chicks counted was 15 percent less than last year.

South Dakota officials say they are benefiting from 1.4 million acres of habitat from the Conservation Reserve Program, a mild winter and fair production. They warned, however, that pheasant populations will vary greatly from region to region. Locally heavy rains were recorded in eastern South Dakota in late May, with spotty precipitation in western counties.

A report on the South Dakota brood counts is available online at South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks' Web site at

Minnesota deer permits: The deadline is Thursday for either-sex deer hunting permits in Minnesota, although many hunters will find this year that most such permits will be available for sale over the counter.

Since last year, the state has been divided into lottery, managed and intensive deer-permit areas, and only those in the "lottery" category required hunters to apply for either-sex permits through the DNR's lottery system. Areas that required a lottery application were outlined on the deer-permit area map in the 2004 Minnesota Hunting Regulations Handbook.

Either-sex permits will be allocated through the lottery for the Zone 3A season in southeastern Minnesota. Hunters who want to hunt either-sex deer in 3A must apply by Thursday.

Anyone applying for an either-sex permit through the lottery must buy a deer-hunting license by Thursday. Licenses can be purchased at Electronic Licensing System agents, on the Internet at or by phone at 888-665-4236.

Did you know?

• The Minnesota State Championship of Walleye Fishing, an event sponsored by Gander Mountain, takes place Sept. 18-19 on Big Stone Lake. The event has a first-place prize of $4,000.

• A half-dozen domestic elk that the DNR dispatched in Kittson County this summer after the animals escaped to the wild all have tested negative for chronic wasting disease. The elk, which came from unknown locations, had holes in their ears indicating they once had been tagged.

• An escaped bison charged at Minnesota conservation officer Brent Speldrich of McGregor. The bison was from a game farm near Tamarack. Speldrich found the animal near McGregor and received permission to kill it on the spot before it damaged property or injured anyone. The 2000-pound animal charged Speldrich and its owner, and it died just yards from the officer and the other man.

• Minnesota wild rice harvesters, as predicted, are having success finding rice. Two ricers reported picking 318 pounds on a lake near Brainerd. This year's low water conditions in northern Minnesota resulted in a banner crop.

• Wild River State Park officials are beginning to work on a new management plan for the popular camping and hiking area near North Branch. The first citizens advisory committee meets from 6-8 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Almelund Town Hall. The park was established in 1973.

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