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Southern Illinois great for hunting Eurasian Collared Dove.

The opening week of the 2018 dove season has been full of action and very productive. Not even a heat wave could dampen the spirits of the hunters shooting over the sunflowers at Keith Graham's Dove Club near Carlinville, Illinois.

Keith runs the foremost dove enterprise in the Midwest. His members enjoy not only the finest wing-shooting anywhere, but his overall facilities and attention to detail makes this a "Down South" style dove hunt right here in the heartland. His members are offered several scheduled hunts per season over his immaculate sunflower fields.

Hunters are delivered to their blinds and picked up after the hunt. The hunters are then taken to the bird cleaning station where cold drinks and running water makes preparing their dove for travel a piece of cake. Also, on the first and last hunt of each season Graham's staff provide their hunters with a great cookout, including dove and wild turkey breast.

To become one of the lucky members of Keith Graham's Dove Club contact him at (217) 825-6552 or check out his website at

On Labor Day evening I accompanied another good friend, Luke Terstreip Sr. to a freshly cut silage field. Luke had done some scouting and we put out a rotating-wing dove decoy and let the birds come to us. For the first time in my dove hunting career I saw and killed Eurasian Collared Dove.

The very first dove I killed that evening was dramatically different from the thousands of mourning dove I have taken in my life. First of all it was HUGE.

Second, it was a very light color, almost beige instead of the dark gray of the dove I am used to. Lastly, the bird had a distinct black ring around the back of its neck. I thought it was a ring-necked dove.

Later in the hunt a pair of doves buzzed the silage and I took them both. Both of these birds were also the larger subspecies that I later learned are actually called Eurasian Collared Dove.

According to Ray Marshalla, a dove expert with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Eurasian Collared Dove is not native to the U.S., but was introduced in Florida in the late 1980s. The birds' range has been moving northward at a very steady pace, and now have been documented in 48 states and provinces.

As of the dove census of 2007, Eurasian Collared Dove were recorded in 77 of Illinois' 102 counties and are most common in south/central Illinois.

Those numbers are bound to go up since Marshalla told me this dove's population can double every 15 months.

They are commonly found very close to towns and grain elevators. So far, they do not appear to be harming the native dove population and are about 67 percent larger that mourning doves.

Now for the really good news. Since these are not native birds they do not count against your daily dove limit. You can kill your 15 mourning dove and as many collared dove as you wish.

You must, however, hunt collared dove using all of the statewide regulations for native birds. Also, once you take your 15th mourning dove you must stop shooting.

If you wish to stay in the field to shoot collared dove you must do so without keeping your 15th native bird.

So as you can see there are lots of reasons to get out into the field and scratch out a limit of dove regardless of what they look like or what they are called.

Hopefully this information will help you in the field.
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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Geographic Code:1U3IL
Date:Sep 14, 2018
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