Dove season opens with a bang

Jeff Lampe

Rambling through the outdoors wondering how I missed so many doves.

Dove season debuted with mixed results across Illinois last weekend. Opening day saw hot action at many sites in northern and central Illinois, while early harvest of corn and beans limited hunting in southern Illinois. Mackinaw River and Snakeden Hollow (1,365 birds opening day) have been hottest in the Peoria area, each topping 2,000 birds through the first four days. 'That's our best opener ever,' Snakeden site manager

Rick Knisely said. 'We've averaged 800 on opening day the last five years.' .?.?. Here are other opening day totals: Des Plaines 1,630 doves, 12.5 doves per hunter; Green River 1,509, 10.1 dph; Jim Edgar-Panther Creek 1,424, 9.6; Snakeden Hollow 1,365, 11.8; Matthiessen 1,302, 10.85; Double T 1,128, 8.9; Mackinaw River 1,000, 10.0; Peabody-River King 820, 4.58; Mautino 790, 10.8; Banner Marsh 675, 6.3; Hennepin Canal 132, 2.03 and Big Bend 388, 2.0. .?.?. Hunting was so good in the field I visited last Saturday that there were limits for all 44 hunters in attendance. 'That's the most hunters we've had and the fastest we've shot out,' said Chris 'Bubba' Cape

Teal season starts Saturday in Illinois, but many local hunters will have to find a new place to get their knee boots muddy. Traditional hot-spot Rice Lake (tops among state sites with 1,280 teal last year) is flooded and teal-attracting mudflats are under water. That explains why Tuesday's aerial survey showed no teal (though a few have been spotted in the Barton Field). Hunting at Rice Lake is on a first-come, first-served basis with room for 200. Shooting stops at 1 p.m. .?.?. Scary thought: The count of just 6,590 teal along the Illinois River is well below the 10-year average of 20,076. Yet Spring Bay duck club guru Randy Root said he saw a major teal migration early this week. Hmm, where did those birds go? Inland perhaps? I saw a big flock of blue-wings Monday while bass fishing in a strip mine south of Elmwood. .?.?. Teal hunting hours are sunrise to sunset statewide and the daily bag limit is four.

If you aren't hunting Saturday morning, tune in to Peoria's WZPN 96.5-FM from 7-8 a.m.to hear the radio debut of Chef Todd . The Chef and I are hosting a new show each Saturday that will focus on hunting, fishing and other outdoors pursuits. 'Dude, what are those words you're not allowed to say on the air?' Chef asks daily. Say a prayer for us.  Earl Stalter of rural Elmwood had a good point. Sez The Pearl, 'I thought it was against the law to bait deer. Then I look in the Farm King flyer and I see Deer Cane (attractant mix), Trophy Rock (16-pound mineral) and C'More Deer (liquid dear attractant). I guess if they can sell it I can use it.' Not so says Peoria County CPO

Scott Avery. 'You're not supposed to use (attractants) period.' And yes, he has written tickets for baiting. .?.?. Archery buffs can see fancy equipment this Saturday and Sunday at the Pekin Archers sanctioned Star FITA shoot. The Olympic-style shoot starts at 9 a.m. each day at the club range on Illinois Route 98. Admission is free.

Fishing has to improve soon, what with cooler temperatures ahead. But the fall bite hasn't started yet for largemouth bass or muskie. Anglers reported generally slow fishing last week. Smallmouth bass were better says guide Jonn Graham, who expects 'the season to shift into overdrive this weekend.' Mike Gomez's 50-incher out of McMaster Lake is the longest muskie entered so far this year in Illinois' voluntary green card creel survey. Gomez caught that fish on a Mepps' spinner and kept the toothy rascal. The longest released fish reported is Bill Heiden's 49-incher caught and released at McMaster Lake in April. .?.?. If that last note interests you, be aware that McMaster Lake and Snakeden Hollow closes to fishing as of Oct. 1. That leaves you 24 days counting today to hook a toothy memory at McMaster. .?.?. Squirrel hunting is allowed at Jubilee College State Park through Sept. 30. Shotguns only.

How generous are folks in central Illinois? A benefit for Norma Gilles this summer attracted 275 golfers and raised about $29,000 (with 1,179 meals served). That's a well-deserved boost for Norma, who doled out plenty of tasty hamburgers and kind words in her days behind the bar at Gilles Tap in Kickapoo. .?.?. Speaking of words,

Neighbor Ash has uttered plenty in his 30 years behind the mike at IVC. Good thing only a few of those gigs came after a stop at Gilles Tap. .?.?. Parting shot: Next time you ponder the need for public hunting ground consider that 292 people showed up by 5:30 a.m. Saturday at Banner Marsh to draw for 107 dove-hunting spots.

JEFF LAMPE

is Journal Star outdoors columnist. Write to him at 1 News Plaza, Peoria, IL 61643, call (309) 686-3212 or e-mail jlampe@pjstar.com