Here's a couple notes and thoughts on dove hunting, including the breakdown of opening-day numbers for northeast Illinois.
For a change this year, I hunted both of the first two days.
Opening day on Thursday was a mob scene at Iroquois SWA--130 guys for 48 pegs. With some family doubling up and such, 61 hunters got out.
I wasn't one of the lucky ones, so I joined the two dozen guys who hunted other sections of the site away from the dove fields. That turned out better than expected. I didn't get any shooting, but saw doves.
And those hunters, who walked or sat at places other than the doves fields, averaged two birds per man. I thought that was strong. Those numbers are not included in the site totals for opening day.
Here are those totols for opening day at public sites in NE Illinois in order of success: Kankakee River SP: 392 doves; 34 hunters, 11.5 doves per hunter; Iroquois SWA: 501, 61, 8.2; Matthiessen SP: 717, 111, 6.5; Silver Springs SFWA 352, 57, 6.2; Des Plaines SFWA: 500, 115, 4.3; Chain O'Lakes SP: 11, 14, 0.8; Shabbona Lake SRA: 35, 23, 0.7; Mazonia SFWA: 1, 14, 0.0; Marseilles SFWA: NA
Some surprises here: Kankakee River, nobody expected that. Which may have helped its dph, because so few hunters were out that they bagged more. And Matthiessen did not do nearly as well as expected, solid but not its usual near the top in the state numbers. Chain O'Lakes, Shabbona and Mazonia did not expect banner or even good years, but those numbers are even low for low expectations.
I had some people floating some interesting theories, one of which made sense and I might have to follow up on.
On a related matter, I thought the point Steve Beckle made--about fewer hunters squeezed on public sites makes for more fulfilling hunts--deserves an extended consideration another day. That sounds like something worth a column in the Sun-Times.
On Friday, I was back at Iroquois and there was about the same number of guys entered as pegs. Three of us who were hunting as a group had what I would consider a typical second day at a public site.
We bagged 7 doves between us, but had shooting most of the afternoon.
My personal stats started off wonderful: 2 birds in bag out of 5 shot at with 7 shells. I never bagged another one and ended shooting a box of shells, you can do the math on that one.
My friend's buddy broke his young Lab in. But that's a story for another day.