Last year's mourning dove season was a stinker. Cool weather in August apparently caused birds to flee the state early.
But reports this year are encouraging, and barring a cold snap, hunters might see more doves. The season opens Saturday -- the ninth since the Legislature re-established hunting the migratory bird in 2004.
"Guys who are scouting them say they are field-specific -- some wheat fields seem to hold them, and others don't,'' said Dave Trauba, DNR area wildlife manager at Lac qui Parle. "It takes scouting.''
He's hopeful this season will be better than last year's.
State hunters bagged about 57,000 birds in 2011, about half the number they shot in 2010. The number of Minnesota dove hunters declined from around 10,000 to 9,400, and the number of days they spent afield also was cut in half, to about 25,000. Hunters averaged about six birds apiece last year, compared to about 10 birds in 2010.
The mourning dove season runs Sept. 1 to Nov. 9. Shooting hours are a half-hour before sunrise to sunset. The daily bag limit is 15, the possession limit 30.