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Where to shoot Doves in SoCal

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by W.R.Buchanan, Aug 14, 2010.

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  1. W.R.Buchanan

    W.R.Buchanan Member

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    Where are you shooting Doves in Southern California?

    I am in Ventura just below Santa Barbara, and all of my spots have dried up.

    I'm looking for new grounds to shoot.

    Does any one have any good suggestions?

    Randy
     
  2. Dougbbbb

    Dougbbbb TS Supporters TS Supporters

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    Try Imperial county.
     
  3. W.R.Buchanan

    W.R.Buchanan Member

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    Doug: was hoping for something a little closer to Ventura. I also was hoping for some "specific place". Imperial County is kind of a big target.

    I know plenty of places locally, problem is they are all on private property, and the people that I used to know that owned the properties are all gone or have sold out. New people either don't shoot, or hoard the resource, so unless you are connected or married to one of them you're SOL.

    So that kind of limits my choices to public land, and in Ventura County there isn't that much public land left that has anything Doves would eat on it. I'd even consider driving 2 1/2hours to Bakersfield. But where in Bakersfield?

    Right now my best shot is with my pellet gun in my front yard. Much less sporting than I was hoping for. I do have a bumper crop of big fat ones, and I don't have to drive very far. Now only if my idiot next door neighbor is gone on Labor Day?

    Randy
     
  4. grunt

    grunt TS Supporters TS Supporters

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    You could go to Kingsburg for the dove shoot. And you could get in some ATA targets too.
     
  5. Remington STS

    Remington STS TS Member

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    Its coming soon Labor day weekend can't wait.
     
  6. wireguy

    wireguy TS Member

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    It's the same everywhere. Imperial Valley will spring up no trespassing signs like toadstools before the 1'st.
     
  7. W.R.Buchanan

    W.R.Buchanan Member

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    Thanks for the info Jim, but the link doesn't work, AVSC.com is a Communications company. Is there another link to this place.

    Kingsburg is a little far unless I had a camper or motorhome. Definately a several day trip..

    Still looking?

    Randy
     
  8. blow-by

    blow-by Member

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    try the carrizo plain off 166
     
  9. 22hornet

    22hornet Well-Known Member

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    Randy
    It's kind of hard to get trespass access here in the Valley. I've been up here for 21 years, and I have to work at it. The DFG has some public spots planted with safflower that is on a draw system for opening day; then open to the public the rest of the season. Lassen Ave north of Huron is one spot, another is at Mendota. The government land around Lake Success east of Porterville is open to hunting. The Corps of Engineers maintains this area. If you go to the DFG website, you can find information on public access dove shoots.

    If you are rich, Tejon Ranch has a paid shoot. I think it's $100.00 for the day, but they do throw in a bar-b-que. Pretty expensive doves and lunch if you ask me!

    Good shootin' to you and all of the rest of the dove hunters. I love dove season. It's the harbinger of fall.
     
  10. W.R.Buchanan

    W.R.Buchanan Member

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    22hornet: Thanks for the Info. It is getting tough to find a place, in the central CA region. All of those hunts at DFG were up north too far to drive for one day and the Imperial Vally is too far the other way.

    I'm located in Ojai CA, and Tejon Ranch is starting to sound like a bargin. It's about 1 hr drive for me, and if I could get my limits both in the morning and afternoon and subtract the $20 lunch then it would only be $4 per bird! That's almost worth it huh? But we all know is all about the hunt right. I was jsut told at Tejon Ranch you get assigned a stake to stand by and that's where you shoot. I wonder if they have any significant number of birds?

    I'll sheck them out anyway and see whats going on up there.

    Still looking in Ojai, Cuyama, Santa Paula, Lockwood Valley areas.

    Randy
     
  11. W.R.Buchanan

    W.R.Buchanan Member

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    Jim: Thanks for the info on AVSChunt.com. It's $95/day, and that includes breakfast. He said lots of birds,and they release Chukars too, which are fair game. I actually like Chukars better than Doves cuz of whitemeat. yummy!

    Thanks again Randy
     
  12. W.R.Buchanan

    W.R.Buchanan Member

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    Still looking?

    Randy
     
  13. wireguy

    wireguy TS Member

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    Dove hunting? Ho-hum, how boring.


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  14. wireguy

    wireguy TS Member

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    Early Season Doves and Dogs, A Hot Topic



    start your bird dog's season early and reap the rewards



    The afternoon sun beats down on the seated hunter through humid valley air. Sweat stings his eyes and soaks his brown military t-shirt, the occasional touch of breeze offering only momentary relief. His head swivels, scanning the horizon. Far to the east a speck appears and grows, distilling through the moisture laden air into the charactaristic jinking motion of a dove on the wing. The hunter remains motionless, willing the dove to continue. With every wingbeat the bird appears to change direction, but somehow maintains it's course. As the bird reaches forty yards, the hunter's eyes lock hard onto the target. At twenty-five yards his legs push upward, hands lift the little Citori to bring it into the shoulder pocket and cheek at once, master eye looking directly over the rib. Hunter and gun are one, rotating in the perfect synchronisity of meshed gears with the winged target, eyes focused on it alone. Without conscious instruction the trigger is pulled, the gun barks, and the dove folds. It splashes onto the steadily moving waters of the Imperial Valley's West Main Canal 25 yards out. The dove is being carried quickly away now on the fast moving water, exactly as planned.

    Planned? Indeed, for in spite of the September heat and humidity, his dogs are there. Two of them see the dove's fall and hit the water, anxious to make the retrieve. Miss Molly Mae, a German Wirehaired Pointer, swims out until she spots the dove and moves to intercept it. She picks it up and swims to a place where she can get out of the canal, fifty yards downstream. The other dogs attempt to steal her prize but she is wise to their ways. In her irritating manner she delivers it to within five feet and drops it, already scanning the sky for another.

    Hot weather dove hunting with your dogs has many rewards. Thoughtful consideration however, should be given to the condition of any dog one considers hunting in hot weather. Overweight, badly out of shape, and some dark colored dogs should not be hunted in hot weather without at least some conditioning. By getting your dogs out early in the season over water though, they will benefit from low impact conditioning through swimming, renewing their bird savvy, rolling the edge off their hyper-enthusiasm, and taking direction. You will enjoy a far more memorable dove hunt because your canine pards are taking part, and work with your dogs in real bird situations. All these benefits accrue by simply limiting your early season dove hunting to locations where there is swimming water to keep your dogs cool through the day's heat.

    Here's what one typical hot weather dove hunt with my dogs looked like.

    Our day begins early. The dogs, two German Wirehairds and an English Cocker, watched me load up the night before, and eschew breakfast in their excitement. After a ninety minute drive that takes us across southern California desert mountains, we drop down into the Imperial Valley. A pleasant twenty mile desert drive brings us to a dusty canal road where the desert meets cultivated crop land. Our headlights cut through the morning darkness to reveal familiar landmarks. The old saying is you can't go home again, but for us this canal has become a kind of home. Year after year, for two weeks during California's early dove season we return to this extreme land of stark beauty.

    I park in our familiar spot, shut the motor off, and step stiffly into the cool morning air. This air will soon be well above one hundred degrees, but for now it is cool and soft. The aroma of dust, water and weeds fills me with anticipation.

    The dogs are displaying their joy at our arrival. They are excited about the prospect of smelling the wild smells, running free, swimming in the canal, and making bird retrieves. As they run busily about, the pale sky reveals the fighter jet silhouetes of doves crossing the canal. It isn't yet light enough for shooting but I find myself hurrying, shrugging into an ancient Filson vest and filling it's pockets with fast 7/8 ounce handloads. A Citori 20 gauge long-tang with a hollow stock is unsheathed and laid upon one shoulder, barrels forward and down. For the tenth time this morning noses are counted without conscious thought. A concrete lined feeder canal runs nearby, parallel to the main canal, and although the dogs are strong swimmers they cannot escape it's steep banks without help. A collapsible fishing pole with a steel ceiling hook threaded and glued into it's tip rides holstered on my hip and is used to fish them out by their collars. That's the idea anyway. More than once I've gone in to get them out, then struggled to extract myself.

    Walking up the intersecting side road to gain some elevation reveals the morning's flight patterns. This is pass shooting, real hunting compared to shooting over feed lots and grain fields where limits come fast and easy, and typically without dog work. There will be no half hour limits on this hunt, for the point of this kind of dove hunting is more of quality than quantity. Quality means getting to work with my dogs, and savor the experience of every bird taken. The price of admission is working harder for a limit, and bearing the day's heat. The presence of swimming water is the key to success.

    There are birds crossing to the north so we mosey downstream. The dogs romp along with me, their animated joy bringing a smile to my face. Standing on the dusty road in brown camo, the canal at my back, my outline is broken by a screen of bushes. Now begins the endless scanning of horizons. Sometimes low flying birds appear from nowhere and are visible for only moments, others are picked up at distance. After much careful observation, I have determined that if any sector of the sky goes un-scanned for a mere seven seconds, a dove can fly through without being seen.

    The canal itself is a flyway, and a lone Mourning flies directly up the canal. It is way downstream and I shrink into the bushes, watching intently as it closes the distance. It is on the far side, just at the junction of the canal bank and road. As it closes I step out, mount and swing, and kill it in the air. The fast 7/8 oz hand loads are a real advantage. The dove lands on the west canal road maybe 40 yards across. Molly, a fierce retriever who loves water retrieves, marks it down. She swims to the far side and searches along the steep bank. Finally she looks back and I thrust my palm toward her. She leaps up to the road bed and instantly finds the dove. I'm flabergasted, never having worked with her on a "back" command.
    A lone Eurasian Collared dove flies directly up the canal center, almost pigeon like. At the shot it hits the water and Max makes the easy retrieve.
    Of course the morning contains it's share of misses. The little Browning has no discipline of it's own, and if I fail to use my own body mass to replace what the gun hasn't, the gun lags behind and the dove doesn't.
    The air is heating now, and with it comes thirst. Returning to the truck, the little 20 is un-loaded and laid over one shoulder. A gallon of cold refreshment is removed from the ice chest strapped to the cargo carrier. The jug is lifted toward my thirsty lips, head tilted skyward, just as two Collared Eurasian doves fly straight across the canal. The jug falls back into it's icy hole. Stepping away from the truck a pair of shells is frantically extracted from my vest, the chambers fed, the gun closed while mounting. The muzzles move hard on the lead bird as it disappears behind some tall weeds growing atop the elevated feeder canal bank. It is invisible to my eyes now, but not to my sub-conscious mind, from which all good wing shooting is performed. Hard earned lessons from games shooting, often at fast rising clays that have vanished as they transition from dark land to gray evening sky, take over as my sub-concious "radar" takes the gun to the bird. The Citori rocks, then transitions to the trailing bird in less than a second and rocks again. Both birds dissapear to the far side of the elevated feeder canal, feathers drifting down through the air. The dogs see the birds go down and are already on their way. We walk across the feeder canal bridge and scrutinise the area for anything that looks out of place. There is nothing. Not so much as a single feather is visible to indicate that two large doves are hidden somewhere in the area. The dogs move in to a large area of grassy weeds. Genetics, training and experience take over and the dogs work through the weedy patch. First my male Wirehaired Max, and then Molly Mae pluck doves from under the weed tops and bring them to me, birds that may well have been lost without the dogs.
    The sun is on the march now with four birds in the bag. Each of them is a memorable experience because I got to watch my dogs find and retrieve them. The camo shirt has come off, leaving the brown military t-shirt in it's place. The dogs begin to lay down around me, taking the occasional swim. It is the ever present water that makes this early season hunting both tenable and enjoyable.
    As the heat and humidity rise the flights taper off, until 20 to 30 minutes of constant heads up vigilance might result in a single opportunity. Sweat soaks my t-shirt, but there is a limit of birds to fill, and a limit won't happen while pass shooting over this canal without those middle of the day additions to the bag. When the action slows I sit on my home made dove hunting stool. It has a back for lumbar support, and the seat is on a ball bearing. Placing my feet on the ground and pushing left, then right, bending the knees, it is almost like rocking a rocking chair, but in the horizontal plane. This makes it nearly effortless to command a 360 degree horizon.
    The sleep lost getting up at 3:00 A.M. begins to show up now. Sitting on my stool my head nods and falls to my chest, the Browning open across one knee. Eyes closed, I soak in the heat, ears replacing eyes as my primary interface with the environment.
    Another Mourning passes westward and I dump it onto the far side of the canal. This time Mocha, my English Cocker, marks it down and makes the retrieve, proving that the smallest member of the family can get the job done just like the "big dogs".
    We tough out those hottest hours of the day between about noon and 4:00 PM when the air begins to cool. The dogs swim and rest while I doze, hunt, and watch farming operations and other abundant wildlife. I soak up the atmosphere of this severe land, and work for every bird taken. Enthusiasm surges again as the afternoon crawls toward evening and the first doves of the evening begin to fly.
    The doves are crossing the canal this evening only a few yards north of the truck so we move across the feeder canal bridge to an elevated strip of bare earth and debris that is puncuated with huge spherical bushes. The feeder and main canals are at our back, a larger re-catch canal out in front of us. The re-catch canal catches the water leaking underground from the main canal and funnels it back. It is deep, with steep earthen banks, and choked with vegetation. Doves are flying thick and fast but each bird downed must be retrieved from the tangled cover before hunting resumes, and it eats time. I find myself in the densly vegetated canal to help the dogs penetrate the wall of green. Finally at my shot a high bird pinwheels into the middle of a pile of twisted tree trunks, and Max dives in to deliver the final dove of our early season.
    Some other hunters arrive and I hail them into our spot. After putting up the Filson and Citori I dog handle for them. They are totally jazzed about watching their birds being recovered from the difficult surroundings. Warden Joe arrives and we exchange pleasantries and bird hunting stories.
    It is dusk on the last day of California's early season, and I pack our gear back into the little Toyota 4X4 and lift the tired dogs in. The sun is behind the horizon as we head south down the canal toward Hwy 98, the western sky still red with long rays. On the way out I am astonished by the sight of hundreds and hundreds of doves roosting on the upper canal road, more doves than I have ever seen in one place. We turn onto Hwy 98 to leave the valley and begin the drive across the beautiful Mexican border desert toward Interstate 8, to that place where it heaves upward out of the desert floor toward the local mountain passes at four thousand feet. A tired Max climbs through the topper shell window and squeezes onto the seat next to Molly, who is asleep on my lap. He uses her for a pillow, and she doesn't protest. As the first stars appear I set the cruise control on 55, and point the little truck toward home.
     
  15. skipsor

    skipsor Member

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    If you buy this weeks copy of Western Outdoor News there is an article, complete with maps of Imperial County, about dove hunting on public land.

    If you want to go to dove hunting heaven drive about 5 hours south to the Yuma, AZ area and scout a few areas south and east of town. Or you can follow one of the parades of cars that pull out about 4 am.

    There are more doves in Yuma than you have ever seen.

    BTW, you can't take a morning and an afternoon limit unless you have a lot of extra cash around that you would like to donate to the court system. Only one limit per day.

    The exception to that would be in AZ where you can shoot as many Eurasian dove as you want.
     
  16. wireguy

    wireguy TS Member

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    The DFG managed public hunting lands in the Imperial Valley are a war zone. You couldn't pay me to be around that insanity. There will be a tragedy out there sooner or later. Better to do some scouting on your own or pay someone to burn gas for you.
     
  17. neofight

    neofight TS Member

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    I was raised in the Antelope Valley(Lancaster) and my dad and i used to hunt a lot in the Tehachapi hills. That was back in the '50's when you simply drove to the area, parked your jeep along the road and started walking. Is L.A.County even open to hunting these days?
     
  18. W.R.Buchanan

    W.R.Buchanan Member

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    Wireguy: I don't have a bird dog, all I have is a CAT! His name is "Feeps" and he can't even catch a stinkin gopher. You'll notice the girth! He'd like to catch a dove, but he gets scared when they fly off and runs in the house. The world is a scary place for Feeps. We must be very cautious. The chair is a safe place, and it never floats away. 20lb anchor!

    Randy


    wrbuchanan_2009_191294.jpg
     
  19. lbshootin

    lbshootin Active Member

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    Best bet hands down is the Yuma Valley, in AZ...The Quechan Indian Reservation is THE place to be on opening morning. I have hunted there for the last 14 years, and have NEVER left the fields later than 7:00am with a full limit! Hunting starts 30 minutes prior to sun rise, and limits are easy to fill. however, on the second morning, and each morning there after, it is harder to get your limits. The surviving dove are fast learners, starting the second day they fly faster, and higher.. Modified choke on opening day...Full to XFull after that! On the reservation, you could actually utilize the California and Arizona license, as the boundries change quite a bit... Then after shooting your 10 limit, head over to Spragues in Yuma, the Boy Scouts have atent set up to clean your birds, and then you enter your biggest into the "Biggest Breast of the Year". Then head over to Larry's BBQ for the finest lunch in the desert! Warning, it gets hot early...90-95 my 9am..over 100 by 1030-1100am..
    See ya there!
     
  20. wireguy

    wireguy TS Member

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    That cat dont hunt.
     
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