By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

VODA -- John Reeder would much rather be out in the field shooting doves, but he knows that won't be the case.

Instead, surgery will force him inside where he will be recuperating.

"I love to dove hunt," Reeder said.

The state's dove season will open Thursday, the first of the hunting seasons in Kansas. The season continues through Oct. 31, but often the doves move south as temperatures cool and start the migration process.

For the most part, Kansas hunters go afield in search of mourning doves, although the season allows for the shooting of Eurasian collared doves and ringed doves.

It's going to be a challenging year for dove hunters, what with the drought that decimated crops and dried up ponds throughout much of the state.

At several wildlife sites managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, there are fields that are specifically managed for doves.

* At Cedar Bluff, three fields -- all in proso millet -- are available. The drought, however, prevented the fields from producing good seeds.

* At Keith Sebelius, one 7 acre sunflower field has been planted and will be available for dove hunters.

* At Webster, an 8 acre field of sunflowers was planted and is availalbe.

* Wilson Lake will have four sites, although two will be closed the first three days of the season for a youth hunt. There are 12 acres of sunflowers at Cedar Creek fields, 8 acres in the Decker road fields, 10 acres in the Mellard road fields and 12 acres on the dam road fields. The Cedar Creek and dam road fields will be closed the first three days of the season.

Maps of each of the fields specifically managed for doves is available online at goo.gl/pCLWV.

Despite the drought conditions, there are some good areas, Reeder said of the Trego County area where he lives.

"There's good dove numbers around," he said "The local doves are good."

Finding the right spot will be the problem.

Open water is in short supply in the area, although some recent rains have altered patterns in some areas.

In Trego County, Reeder said, the area south of Ogallah remains dry.

But to the west, near Voda, there's been some rain and as a result some ponds are holding water.

"Finding that good water hole is the key," Reeder said.