by George Visger, "The Wild Guy"
A little known, or should I say little used, resource in the Sacramento Valley is the late season dove hunt. The season opener generally coincides with the pheasant season. This makes it a perfect fit for those November Doldrums during the waterfowl season, after the local resident birds have been blown out and prior to any major movement of northern birds moving in. High-pressure weather fronts with little cloud cover burn off the morning ground fog, usually putting a stop to decent waterfowl hunting early in the morning. For those patient hunters, it can be a long wait till the last 30 minutes or so of shoot time hoping for an opportunity at working birds. The majority of the mid day hours in the blind are usually spent watching waves of specks cruising over at nose bleed heights (one of our first migrants in the valley) or grinds of birds on the refuges.
Many die hard waterfowl hunters, (myself included) will resort to chasing hogs or pheasants till we get back into December and better conditions for ducks. What many members don’t realize is the that California gets a decent late season flight of dove during this period.
Any of the free roam properties, which allow pheasant hunting, can produce surprisingly good dove shoots at this time. Properties such as Bransford and Butte Creek Farms are a good place to start. Keep a box of seven and a halves in the truck, hold off on the longer shots at pheasants and you’re ready to go. Just be cognizant that if you carry lead shot you can not shoot at waterfowl, even if you switch to steel shot. It is illegal to carry lead ammunition while waterfowl hunting.
Give it a shot this season. Great way to fill in the warm sunny afternoons in November if you’re not a striped bass or football fan.