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Moving doves and big fish: Heading to Labor Day weekend in Chicago outdoors

The beauty and delight of grilled dove breasts plated with late summer bounty.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

Considering doves are by far the most harvested game bird or animal in the United States, there is remarkably little data on their movement.

I think the best is the informal method of counting doves on wires by fields or estimating how many fly up when fields are being worked.

Illinois hunting gets underway seriously when dove and early Canada goose seasons open Saturday.

Like many hunters, I find myself driving around in August, checking wires. By my informal method, dove populations are OK. I am seeing doves, but not the dozens and dozens lined up on wires that make my mouth water.

Lone dove on a wire in late August, 2018.<br>Dale Bowman/Sun-Times
Lone dove on a wire in late August, 2018.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

When I checked field conditions at nearby public sites and top sites around the state (see box), they were OK to good. But there was concern among site staff that the cool snap late last week had moved some doves.

That is what I mean about data on dove movement. We really don’t know what motivates doves to move, though field observations certainly suggest cool snaps move them quickly.

Crop harvest won’t be a friend, particularly for goose hunters. The weekly Illinois Crop Progress and Condition Report on Monday didn’t list corn or bean harvest anywhere in the state.

All that said, I am excited about dove season. I drew an opening-weekend permit for Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area, which is consistently near the top for doves.

And grilled dove breasts with jalapeno slices wrapped in bacon are a favorite Labor Day tradition.

Big-fish bonanza

Good signs come for some big fish for the holiday weekend.

  • Jim Kovacek forwarded a note from Capt. John Warren of Kingseeker Charters, who had a customer catch a 31-pound, 11-ounce lake trout in 125 feet off Chicago. The Illinois-record laker (38-4) was caught by Ted Rullman on Aug. 22, 1999, off Waukegan.
  • John Miller emailed that a group from Carpenters Local 1185 caught a 21-pound king (Chinook), an 18-pound laker and a 15-pound steelhead with Capt. Jim Miller (no relation) on Sunday out of North Point Marina.
  • Andy Mikos had 89-year-old Sey Gottlieb catch a 23-pound male king in 230 feet Sunday. Mikos said it had not turned color yet.


Hawg Gone won the Salmon Unlimited Open on Sunday with nearly a 10-pound average. . . . Brett Haake of Shorewood won the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League Michigan Division tournament Sundayon the Detroit River to earn $3,956.

Wild things

With reports of common nighthawks on IBET, the Illinois birders network, it is time to watch the evening skies at Sox Park and the other baseball field. . . . Considering the evening racket from dog-day cicadas, I’m surprised none of the neighborhood kids has found a cicada killer wasp yet.

Stray cast

If Bob Nightengale is a cobra, is Joe Maddon a mongoose?