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Stormy conditions make for challenging mourning dove hunt

Thunderstorms that pounded Southern Nevada the past few weeks brought much-needed water to the desert but also put a damper on the mourning dove hunt. Doves that migrated into the area between storms quickly were pushed out with the arrival of the next round of thunder and lightning.

Ron Mills, manager of the Key Pittman Wildlife Management Area in Hiko, said this has been one of the toughest dove hunts he has seen in years. Though some hunters bagged a few doves, the birds didn’t stay around long enough to provide much opportunity. Nevertheless, a few days still remain in the season and, with them, a chance to put a few birds in the baking dish.

Late Saturday afternoon, as we were driving through a community on the south edge of town, my wife and I couldn’t help but notice the incredible number of doves using the power lines as a rest stop. That was enough to make me curious, so we drove farther south to a place where I like to hunt doves once the opening day crowds simmer down. I wanted to see if any birds were flying in to a small settling pond that serves as a regular stop along the doves’ migration route.

It was sunny and hot, so we found a shady spot and settled in to wait. A half-hour passed without a bird in sight, and I began to wonder aloud if the trip had been a waste of time. Then, just as the sun settled behind a mountain to the west of us, I caught some movement while scanning the horizon through my binoculars. I saw two doves whose flight path followed a line of trees that led them directly to the pond. A few minutes passed, and another half-dozen birds flew down that same tree line, and then another group flew in behind them. That pattern continued until legal shooting time passed.

Not many birds were flying, but there were enough to provide an enjoyable evening hunt and a meal.

You still have time to squeeze in a dove outing between now and the end of the season.

■ WILDLIFE COMMISSION TO MEET — When the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners meets Friday and Saturday in Las Vegas, it will have a full agenda, including predation management, elk hunt management strategies, trap visitation and registration requirements, and a proposed regulation limiting the use of trail cameras during hunting season.

The meeting will be held in the Commission Chambers at the Clark County Government Center, with sessions beginning at 10 a.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. Saturday. A full agenda and essential support material can be found online at www.ndow.org.

Among the elk hunt strategies to be considered are spike bull hunts, wilderness only elk hunts, a reduction in waiting period from 10 years to five for hunters who successfully harvest a bull elk, and the creation of a “Delk” tag.

The premise of the Delk tag is to increase the number of cow elk harvested in certain units without increasing hunter congestion. To obtain a Delk tag, a hunter would check a box on his tag application indicating his wish to be drawn for a cow elk tag if he draws a deer tag. The tags would be for the same unit groups or a portion thereof as needed.

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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