Friday, August 12, 2011

Dove fields in poor shape: Blame the weather, though

The on-going wet weather is stifling the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s dove fields in Northeast Ohio.

This situation is especially acute at the agency’s Grand River Wildlife Area in Trumbull County and to a lesser degree, the Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area, also in Trumbull County.

And a visual inspection of the two wildlife reserves on Thursday pointed out the rough condition of the fields. All of which could hamper their respective abilities to attract doves once the season begins Sept. 1.

Ron Ferenchak, Grand River’s manager, said that because of the delayed planting and wet weather the reserve will manage just one field for dove hunting: The operation off Stroupe-Hixon Road.

While neither corn nor sunflowers were planted there (or anywhere else on the property) to provide hunters with cover there is a long strip of weeds into which sportsmen can hide, Ferenchak said.

However, complicating matters is that last week the area’s workers were unable to apply an herbicide to the wheat, a prerequisite for burning. This may complicate finishing off the field’s management, Ferenchak said, but won’t stop it.

“It’s the third year for the field and I’d say it’s on par with the quality over at Mosquito,” he said.

Ferenchak said that on the dove opener it’s not unusual to find 400 or 500 doves visiting this field. Previously, this number allowed opening day limits the first year of the field’s existence, Ferenchak said.

Once word of the field’s success got out the hunting pressure quickly swelled the next two years, Ferenchak said.

“It should still be a good field,” he said.

Ferenchak did say that Grand River’s other two designated dove fields will have some management work performed on them but that it will be of limited value and will likely provide limited performance.

As for Mosquito, that operation experienced a delayed planting of corn though stalks are now just maturing to the point where they may provide some cover once the dove season begins Sept. 1.

At the Horvath plot off Rt. 45, an herbicide has been placed on the strip containing the wheat and corn. This will be burned soon.

Along with mowing the location will offer much more limited hunting than in the past, however.

At the headquarters’ plot it is difficult to tell where the wheat plantings begin and the weeds stop. What will happen here is that all will be mowed with the ground then turned over; much as what was accomplished last year and which did a fine job in spite of no burning.

However, the two strips of sparse corn used to hide hunters won’t stand head high. Currently they are waist high at best and should be chest to shoulder high by the time the season opens.

All in all it will require hunters get to the respective shooting stations long before daylight if they are to secure a decent chance of shooting doves.

It also was interesting that on Thursday I saw few doves at either Trumbull County reservation even though the telephone wires along the roadways leading to them often were being occupied by the migratory birds.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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