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Doves to Be Plentiful if Weather Holds Up

The last forecast California’s dove hunters want to hear as they head out for their favorite sites today is that it will be a dark and stormy night. The first part of the split season opens Thursday, a half-hour before sunrise.

Recent surveys of the state’s most popular game bird by California Department of Fish and Game personnel indicate that it could be the best shooting in years . . . if storms don’t scatter the birds or cooling weather doesn’t drive them south into Mexico.

Otherwise, John Massie, a DFG senior wildlife biologist for the southern counties, said that if anything, the picture has been getting brighter over the last few days. “We’re getting reports of new birds coming in from the north,” he said.

Sam Blankenship, a DFG biologist specializing in game birds, said ample rainfall the last two years has boosted the birds’ nesting habitat and increased reproduction.

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“This good reproduction rate translates into high concentrations of birds in traditional dove hunting areas,” he said. “To the hunter, it’s probably going to mean a great 1994 season.”

The season runs Sept. 1-15 and Nov. 12-Dec. 26. The best areas are usually Imperial and Riverside counties and the Central Valley.

Hunters with licenses ($24.40 plus $5.50 for an upland game stamp) may take 10 birds daily and have 20 in possession. Shooting closes at sundown each day.

The limit includes white-winged doves, which may be hunted in Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, along with mourning, Chinese-spotted and ringed-turtleneck doves hunted elsewhere in the state.

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Each dove must retain one fully feathered wing for identification.

Some tips:

--Migrating doves are attracted to open agricultural fields, especially those with safflower and cereal grains. They avoid forests, swamps and high elevations.

--A key to desert dove hunting is to locate aerial pathways that the birds follow between feed locations and watering holes.

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--Good dove-hunting sites generally overlooked are tribal lands along the Colorado River. For information in the Parker Valley, telephone (602) 669-9286; for the Chemehuevi Valley Indian Reservation, telephone (619) 858-5322.

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Entering the last big boating weekend of the summer, Texas leads the nation in recreational boating fatalities this year with 42. There have been 24 deaths in California.

More than 500 people have died in boating accidents nationwide this year, according to the Boat Owners Assn. of the United States (BOAT/U.S.). One reason is false security. Normally, a boat isn’t going to sink at sea--most sink at the dock--but that doesn’t mean a boater can get away with stupidity.

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Of the fatal incidents this year, half involved the use of alcohol by the driver or passengers. Still, they might have survived if they hadn’t been in an overloaded boat, but 30% were. And they still might have made it if they had been wearing lifejackets, but 80% were not.

Most important is keeping an alert lookout for swimmers, fishermen, water skiers, buoys and other objects in the water, but especially other boats, because those on board might not be looking out for you. Most accidents are collisions.

Briefly

MEXICAN FISHING--San Diego long-range: Boats, with full loads of passengers, continued to find bluefin tuna, but the counts dropped off a bit. Some boats are seeking only the bluefin, which are still from 80 to 100 miles south, while others go farther south after yellowtail, bonito or dorado and check out the bluefin grounds going and coming. That strategy worked well for the Red Rooster III, which found 395 yellowtail, 215 yellowfin tuna and 110 dorado for 31 passengers at San Benito Island 280 miles south, then hit 15 bluefin at the 100-mile mark coming home--"a good way to finish off the (four-day) trip,” said Victor Rilling of Lee Palm Sportfishers. He expects the bluefin bite to continue until the water cools. Jackpot bluefin have been consistently larger than 100 pounds, topped by a 149-pounder taken by Bob DeRobbio of Newport Beach on the Vagabond last week. Cabo San Lucas: A 790-pound black marlin, one of the largest landed in the area, was taken by Greg Wolf of Huntington Beach aboard the Tyon II. Wolf, who was trolling a small tuna on a downrigger, fought the fish for two hours. Jeff Kirkpatrick, Riverside, had a 320-pound blue marlin. The Whitey’s Blue Marlin tournament was canceled for lack of entries, but the nine teams that showed up staged their own contest, topped by a 440-pound black marlin taken by Bruce Clark of Phoenix aboard the Yayo. Overall, billfish counts were down but dorado and tuna up, averaging a season high of nine fish a boat.

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