By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

It's not often that someone can get away with telling people to seek out spots that have either ragweed or wild marijuana -- ditch weed for those in the know -- and get an enthusiastic response.

That's not the only place to look for mourning doves, of course, and with dove season opening on Tuesday, its almost a certainty that hunters already have their spot picked out.

Dove season is benchmark for hunters, as it is the first in a series of seasons that will be opening over the coming months.

This year, the outlook for doves is top-notch, according to Brad Odle, regional wildlife supervisor for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

Provided -- and there's always a catch -- that Mother Nature doesn't usher in cold, rainy weather to push the doves south.

For Odle, that's a bit of a concern.

Already, he said, the birds have bunched up, perhaps a signal that they are ready to make the trip south. Odle said he's seen at least one bunch that numbers about 300.

"That worries me, because if we get a wet, cold snap, they're gone," he said.

All week long, the outlook was for storm chances. Between now and Tuesday, however, moderate temperatures are in the forecast with lows dipping down into the mid 50s.

Typically, doves start heading south once the temperature falls below 50 degrees.

Most likely, a round of cold weather last weekend -- when temperatures dropped into the low 50s -- was responsible for bunching up the birds.

If the area can hold the doves, Odle is predicting plenty of success.

"Everything looks extremely good if we can hold that weather off and keep them here for two weeks," he said.

Everywhere he turns, conditions are ripe for the birds.

There's plenty of snow-on-the-mountain flowers growing in the countryside. Odle said doves relish the seeds from the plants.

Cattle normally don't graze the plant because of its bitter tastes, and it can cause poisoning if fed in hay. The plant is related to the poinsettia.

It's also found out in pastures, which doves like, and are often near ponds.

"Ragweed is real good," he said of the effect on doves, not so much on allergy sufferers. "Wild marijuana is extremely good."

Doves like seeds from both plants.

"Everything looks good," he said.

That's why he's forecasting that people should have success almost anywhere they try to hunt.

"I don't know if it's going to matter where you're at," Odle said.

That leaves him with only one suggestion.

"I think you better stock up on ammunition," he said. "It could be good for an extended time."

As for Odle?

He's going to be attending a conference near the Cimmaron National Grasslands in southwest Kansas.

Part of the time, he'll be out trying his hand at the southwest Kansas style of shooting, where, rather than ponds, they have windmills.

"So they come into your lap," he said of the birds flying in close to the tanks that hold the windmill's bounty.

After that, he'll be back home, near where he spotted the 300 birds in a single group.

That, of course, is classified information.

"I think we're set up for a good one," Odle said of the season ahead.