Three-day holiday fun for dove opener

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doves cooked

Dove season opens in the middle of the Labor Day Weekend to give hunters some extra shots

Brawley — With dove season opening the Sunday before Labor Day this year, out-of-town and in-town hunters are in for a blast of a three-day weekend in Imperial Valley.

Leon Lesicka, founder of Desert Wildlife Unlimited, has been planting and flailing upland game fields for the last 14 years in and around the Brawley-Calipatria-Niland area. He reports dove numbers are up right now, just over two weeks from the season-opener.

“The fields we have are loaded right now,” Lesicka said. “There are a lot of birds, lots of whitewings, but we haven’t had any storms yet to push them out, either.”

Lesicka said hunters can go on the DWU website, www.desertwildlifeunlimited.org to check on and locate Upland Game Bird fields, or click here.  Lesicka also flailed the five fields in the Wister Unit of the Imperial Wildlife Area and reports those areas are loaded, too.

Desert Wildlife has been busy making dove season better for all hunters. This year they have located vacant field and asked owner to let them plant sections in wheat, Safflower. This was planned with the Fish & Game Department and was paid by Fish & Game Department. This took many donated hours by Desert Wildlife members. These fields are ready for Dove hunting and the fields will be open to all hunters.

Lesicka said the fields have stubble wheat and Sudan, mostly. He said there are some fields that are more exceptional than others, but said hunters need to do their own scouting. He didn’t want to overload one field and cause unsafe shooting conditions.

Farther south, Tom Brundy of Tom’s Hay Farm in Seeley, said the influx of solar farms has stripped much of the available hunting land south of Interstate 8.

“Those farms really impacted my area, taken away thousands of acres,” Brundy said. “But there are a lot of birds in certain areas. You just have to pick and choose.”

As usual, the businesses surrounding the best upland hunting fields in Southern California will benefit and are planning events to welcome hunters.

Ed McGrew, who used to hold a pre-dove season bash every year at Rio Bend RV Park, is doing the same now at Sunbeam Lake RV Resort on the north side of Interstate 8 from his old digs west of El Centro.

 

McGrew is telling hunters to “come on over the hill” to visit the oasis that is Sunbeam Lake. He’ll host a Dove Hunter’s Special Saturday night from 6-8 that will feature Sunbeam Burgers, raffle and prizes for all who attend. Anyone with a valid California hunting license gets in free. It’s $5 for those without a license. McGrew’s resort features a pool and spa, billiard room, boating and Jet Skiing and fishing for bass, catfish and bluegill in Sunbeam Lake. There’s also a wide-screen TV in the air-conditioned clubhouse. McGrew also will provide a bird-cleaning station at the resort. Call (760) 352-7154.

At Barbara Worth Country Club in Holtville, owner Darryl “Dee” Readshaw is offering a hunter’s special that includes a room for two, barbecue dinner and golf at the resort known as “The Jewel of the Valley.”

“We’re already booked for opening weekend, but we’ll have rooms that week and the rest of the season,” Readshaw said.

Readshaw is offering special room rates, golf green fees and the like to all hunters. Call (760) 356-5800.

With thousands of hunters in the Valley for the opener, the California Waterfowl Association is going to take advantage of that by hosting a fund-raising Mexican fiesta Saturday night at 5 at the Brawley Elks Club. Entry fee is $35, and there will be a raffle and silent auction.

HOTELS:

Brawley Inn – (760) 344-1199

RESTAURANTS:

Brownie’s Diner – Brawley

SPORTING GOODS:

Zendejas Hardware – Calipatria

Big 5 Sporting Goods – El Centro

Imperial Stores – Brawley & El Centro