Frye: Doves numerous, hunters aren't
TribLIVE Sports Videos
There's some good news on the hunting front these days. But does anyone care?
That's a question you might ask yourself in the dove fields.
Across Pennsylvania and the eastern U.S., mourning dove populations are stable to increasing, said Ian Gregg, supervisor of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's game bird section. They're a “habitat generalist” that's often most common in the suburbs and other places most hunters live these days.
“Their preferred habitat would be an old quarry that's got some grit and standing water, with some pine trees around and some agricultural fields nearby. But you can find them in almost any kind of habitat,” Gregg said.
Populations can vary, but the birds seem more abundant than usual locally, according to some reports.
“Boy, I'm seeing plenty of doves this year,” said Randy Pilarcik, one of the commission's wildlife conservation officers in Butler County. “The last couple of years were down a bit, but there seem to be lots of birds out there now.”
Opportunities to chase them are plentiful, too. This year's season, as always, is broken into three segments. Part one is through Sept. 28, with shooting from noon to sunset. Parts two and three are from Oct. 26 to Nov. 20 and Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, with shooting from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. The daily limit throughout the 70-day season is 15 birds.
Next year, the season could be even longer. Gregg said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may allow 90 days of hunting in 2014.
That's a reflection of how well populations are doing, not to mention how difficult the fast-flying, dodging-and-weaving birds are to hit.
“They're an ammunition manufacturer's best friend,” Gregg said.
Where are all the dove hunters?
The commission does an annual “game take” survey of hunting license buyers each year. It measures what species hunters are pursuing and how many animals they're taking. It shows that dove hunters are disappearing.
That's not totally surprising as participation in small-game hunting in general has trended downward. But dove hunters are really scarce. There were more than 90,000 of them in 1990. Now there are only about a quarter as many.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Outdoors notebook: Changes likely coming to area lakes
- Game Commission to seek license fee increase in 2016-17
- Frye: Big fish come from all over
- Outdoor notices: March 30, 2015
- New Game Commission board member wants to address diversity
- Outdoor notices: March 29, 2015
- Proposal would open door to hunting with air rifles in Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania deer harvest declines