Dove Hunting: Getting Started

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Published on: Aug. 20, 2013

some concealment to break up your outline, such as a brushy fencerow or clump of vegetation. Also, if possible, set up so the sun is to your back, which will keep the sun out of your eyes and make you more difficult to see.

Doves often land on the bare limbs of dead trees along the edge of grain fields before flying to the ground to feed. Sitting up next to these trees often offers close shots as the birds come in to land. Power lines also serve as a favorite place for doves to land. Don’t shoot doves off power lines. Shot can damage the lines.

Learn how to judge distances. This will let you know when a dove is in range to shoot. If you are using an open-choked shotgun, your shots should probably be closer than 30 yards. If you are using full choke, you can likely take shots out to a little more than 40 yards.

Gain skill at judging distances quickly by practicing at times other than when you are hunting. In your yard, guess how far away you are from a tree or a clump of grass, then walk it off and see how close you were to your estimate. You can do the same when on a walk or at the mall or at practically anytime you are in a large area.

Doves are frequently missed because hunters shoot too far. Also, doves are missed because hunters raise their shotguns to shoot before doves are in range. Doves see the movement and flair before they get close enough to shoot. When you see a dove flying your way, hold absolutely still. When the dove is in range to shoot, then raise your shotgun. This way, when the dove flairs, it’s already close enough for a good shot.

When you down a dove, rivet your eyes to the spot where you saw the dove fall, and while walking to the spot, keep your eyes on that spot. Doves are relatively small birds and are easily hidden in tall grass and other vegetation. They also blend in well among corn or milo stalks. Even if other doves are flying in at easy gun range while you walk to a downed dove, resist the urge to take another shot. Keep your eyes on the spot where your bird fell, retrieve it, then get back to hunting.

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