Dove Season Basics

Mourning_doveFor most states not located in the west, hunting season officially begins on the opening day of dove season. This hallowed day usually occurs during the first week of September when it is still hot weather. These fast and flighty birds are responsible for large doses of frustration and they often demand that hunters purchase large quantities of shotshells before a limit can be realized. Here are some ways to improve your success.

Use the correct sized shot. It is a fact that early season doves have less body mass than mid or late fall birds. This is due to their strenuous migrations and short food stops, so save that #7 shot for later and try to use either #8 or #9 shot for the earlier, thinner birds. Using the right choke is just as important. You will have to decide if you want a full choke and a ball of feathers, or a less extreme choke and the edible birds it will help you harvest. Improved or modified is the way to go for less damage, so give your full choke a rest until Teal season.

Setting up in blind or stand locations requires good decision making skills and savvy hunters will utilize the sun to their advantage. Camouflage is an important tool but it is only as effective as a hunter’s ability to remain still while birds approach. I believe doves see and react to movement more than they do regarding something out of place. I have no idea how those tiny little bird brains work, but I have to assume that an out of place hunter would be a concern, and a moving hunter would be a clear danger. Blend in and be still.

Don’t cheat yourself by hunting over waterholes during midday. Sure, waterholes are an easy ambush spot for watering doves, but the trick is to get them to consistently use those water holes. That can only happen if they are unmolested. Try to find their flight paths to the water and set up on those. This will allow you to take advantage of them going to water but not blow out the water source. 

Hunting midday is never a prime time to hunt unless it is at their watering locations as already discussed, so try to hunt early in the morning or late in the afternoon for optimum travel times. 

Finally, if you are anything like me, you hardly practice shooting your dove gun until opening day, so get in some practice before the season. Or better yet, take some shooting lessons so that you will be tuned up and dialed in on opening day.