Lessons Learned During My First 2012 Dove Hunting Experience
It has just gotten light on Tuesday when we reach our intended hunting destination, only to find it already occupied by another group, catching us by surprise. We are amazed that dove hunting has gained popularity so rapidly! We head out to other properties in search of harvesting the number-one game bird in North America- keying our efforts on habitats that attract them.
It is nearly 10 a.m. when we find an unoccupied area with ideal habitat. It features lots of freshly mowed sunflowers, a few rows of standing sunflowers, and a nice variety of trees, brush, and other habitat. Quick observations tell us a number of things about this spot:
• This is the fourth day of dove season, and judging by the numbers of shell casings lying around the first three have been a lot of fun for many people.
• The sunflowers are hugely attractive to a wide array of songbirds, most notably gold finches and red-winged blackbirds.
• We are late. The doves have finished feeding and are not moving around.
By walking around the timbered perimeter of the field, I eventually locate a pretty large flock of doves near a watering area and harvest a couple of them. However, it is far too hot today to continue this type of hunting, so we head to town for a leisurely lunch. Likely, the other restaurant patrons noticed the two sweaty individuals!
Our next adventure is to approach another, similar stand. It is even more remote, although the empty shotgun shells are present in abundance to tell us others have been there before us. We put together our decoys, fake trees, and even “robo-dove” and begin to wait. At about 4:30, doves begin to enter the field and feed along the edges. However, they are avoiding us like the plague that we are here to be!
Eventually, we learn that these hunted doves require that a human be well hidden. With this new knowledge, we will really do great next time when it will also be cooler- we hope! My suggestions to others considering taking up this sport:
The goal is to find weedy, short cover. One ideal location is recently picked fields, which will become more plentiful right along now, with brushy trees and water.
Decoys are highly recommended. Movement is also supposed to help (although it did not help us that day).
Hiding and camouflage is essential. They have great vision and few suicidal tendencies.
Being legal is always important: These are migratory birds and those rules apply which includes using a shotgun holding no more than three shells and shooting hours from a half hour before sunrise to sunset. Your limit is 15 (if you can carry that many shells) and there are no shot restrictions.