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Better days ahead for hunters

The second half of mourning dove season has officially started. Looking back at the season’s first two weeks, some hunters might wonder if it’s worth the effort to crawl out of bed well before sunup and make the drive to their selected hunting spot.

Opening day and the first weekend provided hunters with good shooting opportunities, but the action slowed quickly as passing weather fronts pushed the birds that were in Southern Nevada farther south.

That might trick some hunters into giving up for the season, but I wouldn’t be too quick to trade my dove loads for the easy chair. My guess is that most of the birds taken on opening day and that first weekend were local birds, ones hatched and fledged here in Southern Nevada.

I don’t think flights of doves migrating from the north have arrived yet, not in numbers anyway. The weather up north is still too nice. What we need to push mourning doves this direction are weather fronts to the north that will kick the birds our direction.

Until then, they’ll just kind of trickle through.

Ron Mills oversees the Key Pittman Wildlife Management Area in Lincoln County. Mills told me this week he expects some of the best hunting to take place during the last two weeks of the season — long after most dove hunters have moved on to other outdoor pursuits.

For three of the last four years, most migrating doves didn’t reach Key Pittman until the second half of the season.

When he managed the Kirch Wildlife Management Area, farther to the north, Mills sometimes didn’t see large flights of doves until the first week of October. Let’s hope that’s not the case this year.

Don’t give up if you try your favorite hunting spot — or a new one, for that matter — and see few birds. Go back a day or two later and you just might find all the shooting you can handle, and that will be a good warmup for the quail and chukar seasons.

With the exception of a statewide youth upland game hunt, those seasons open Oct. 9. The youth hunting season, for hunters 15 and younger, is Sept. 25 and 26, during which they can harvest rabbits, California, Gamble’s and Scaled quail, and Chucker or Hungarian partridge.

Young hunters must be accompanied by an adult who is 18 or older. And no, the adult can’t hunt. It’s the kids’ turn.

■ TRAPPING EDUCATION EVENT — During the past few years, trapping has seen a resurgence in Nevada, probably because of the increased value of bobcat furs.

That resurgence has resulted in more trappers in the field, and others are considering taking up the hobby.

To help new trappers get off on the right foot, the Nevada Trappers Association is hosting its third annual Trapper Education Day on Sept. 25 at the Sawmill Picnic area at Kyle Canyon. The event is scheduled to begin with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and will include lunch as well.

Participants will learn about all aspects of trapping, including the steps necessary to properly care for furs.

Contrary to what some might think, trapping always has been legal in Nevada, though trapper numbers have been relatively small.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at intheoutdoorslv@gmail.com.

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