Dove Hunting: Getting Started

Published on: Aug. 20, 2013

that offer chat for their gizzards and a place to drink. Mid-morning, doves rest in trees. Mid-afternoon finds the birds feeding again. Shortly before dusk, doves fly to favorite roosting areas for the night.

Mourning doves are migratory, but their migration is a complex affair. Adults birds, particularly males, are often permanent residents and live their lives where they bred and raised young. Young typically migrate within two weeks of having left the nest. Cold fronts push birds south, with other birds moving in from the north.

Gear

Equipment for a dove hunt is fairly simple. For concealment, camouflage clothes help but are not necessary. Any dull-colored clothes will do. Shotgun type is a matter of choice. A 12 gauge is tough to beat because it throws a lot of shot. Shotgun choke is a matter of choice, too. The larger pattern of an open choke, such as skeet or improved cylinder, will help you hit fast-moving targets. A full choke will allow you to take longer shots. Pick a choke that fits your level of shooting skill.

Most hunters choose shot size of 7.5 or 8, which gives you lots of shot in the air and the energy needed to cleanly bring down doves. Bring plenty of shells. Two boxes is often a minimum. Shooting can be that fast.

Dove season opens when mosquitoes, ticks, and chiggers are still active. So include insect repellent with your gear. Since the weather is often warm, bring along drinking water.

To carry your gear, stores that handle hunting supplies often stock camouflaged buckets with cushioned lids that make for comfortable sitting and convenient carry-all.

Hunting Strategy

With proper gear gathered, it is time to put together a good dove hunt. As with any hunt, the key is putting yourself where the game is at, at a time when they are active. Locate grain fields that have been recently harvested. It often takes doves five days or so to start using newly harvested fields in large numbers. Look for small grain fields less than 20 acres. In bigger fields doves can spread out and are more likely to evade hunters.

If you plan to hunt in the morning, set up before first light. When doves start flying, pay careful attention to flight patterns. If the birds are not flying where you set up, move to their flyway. Look for a spot that offers

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