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Do you want the best dove hunting tips to take more doves home for a tasty meal? Are you searching for dove hunting tips to improve your hunting of doves? We have compiled the best dove hunting tips for both the beginner dove hunter and an old hand.
Best Dove Hunting Tips
1. Power Line Break
The sight of doves sitting on a power line should be a signal to you that they are using the fields nearby. Be on the lookout as the afternoon approaches to see if you can find the fields that the doves are using and the routes they are using to go to and from their resting areas and waterholes.
2. Carry Enough Ammo
Don’t cut yourself short. It is human to think you have enough shells only to realize halfway through a busy hunting day that you are running low. Trust me, that’s not a good feeling. Take along twice the number of shells you really think you need.
3. White-Wing Birds and Hot Weather
The white-winged dove of the southwest prefers hotter weather. When the weather starts to get cold, the birds along the Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico borders fly off to Mexico.
4. Take Cover
Always try to conceal your location. Don’t assume the birds can’t see you. They have good eyesight and will spot you. Find a good spot to take cover as you hunt them. You could build a ground blind but any other cover can also do the job. You can read about the best hunting ground blinds to help you choose the best ground blind for your hunting.
5. Doves’ Marker Trees
Singe and prominent trees are often used by doves as a sort of intersection guidepost when crossing large expanses of fields. They usually fly past these positions before fanning out for other sections of the fields. A low clump of small trees at an intersection of fence rows can also be the marker. If you spot some of these clusters of trees, you could be handsomely rewarded.
6. Choose the Right Gun
There are many guns to choose from for dove hunting. However, many dove hunters choose one ranging from 12 to 20 gauge.
7. Small Hunts For Doves
There is still time for small hunts that involve two hunting buddies. You can discover these areas for small hunts by carefully scouting over the land you have permission to hunt on. These small hunt sites could be rewarding during the winter part of the dove season when the birds are bigger and faster.
8. Retrieve Birds Quickly
When you take a dove down, quickly locate it and retrieve it. You can also mark the area they are in if you are still busy, but it is best to quickly get them. Doves are well camouflaged and it is easy for you to lose them on the ground. A well-trained retriever can also get them.
9. Clear Ground Walking
Doves like to walk over spots of clear ground. They don’t fancy walking in thick brushes even though they may be flying over thick, tangled brushes. Keep your eyes open for open, sandy ramps along the water’s edge as watering places. You will also find them landing in clearings or in the open ground between the rows of feed like sunflower seed or millet.
10. Bounty Care
The meat of doves can be seriously impacted by heat as most dove hunting is done in hot weather. To prevent the meat from going bad, don’t pile them up in your vest pocket. The heat will build up from them on top of each other. Instead, spread them out in a shady area to prevent their body heat from building up. You could also take along a cooler with ice and place them in it.
11. Don’t Shoot Low Flying Birds
Discipline yourself not to shoot at low-flying birds. They present a dangerous situation and it should be avoided always. If you don’t have at least a 45-degree angle to shoot, you shouldn’t take the shot. A low-angle shot is very dangerous as it could pose danger to another hunter as pellets could be sent his way. Discipline yourself to always pass those shots.
12. Ear Protection
You can damage your ears over time if you don’t use ear protection when you go hunting. There are a variety of ear protection gadgets for hunting ranging from foam earplugs to shooting earmuffs. We reviewed the best game earmuffs and you can read it from this link.
13. Tough Overhead Shots
When a bird is flying straight overhead, that can be one of the toughest shots to take. It is a challenge to get your gun barrel ahead of one of the birds, keep it moving and still be able to see the bird.
Shooters are good at making this kind of shot emphasizing that you must have the barrel overtake the bird in a rapid swing. Then pull the trigger just as the barrel overtakes the bird in a rapid swing, then pull the trigger as the barrel blots out the bird.
14. Clean Dove Gun
You should clean your dove gun and give it a thorough check-up before the hunting season starts. You don’t want to be in the fields and experience a malfunction. For best results, it is always best to clean your gun at the end of the dove season and at the beginning.
15. Camouflage Clothing For Dove Hunting
You can get away with wearing any kind of shirt, as long as it is not white or black when there is a heavy flight of birds in the area with plenty of chances to get some shots. However, in normal and in tough conditions, when not many birds are coming your way, wearing a camouflage shirt and hat will help you in dove hunting especially when they are skittish.
16. Don’t Shoot At Waterholes
If you hunt a water hole or pond used by doves, they will avoid it because of the danger it presents. Instead, you want to set up on the main flyway they use coming into the waterhole and pass-shoot. It is not worth it to destroy a good waterhole by shooting over it.
17. Killdeer Alert
They are dark gray birds with pointed wings that are usually found in the terrain where you can also find doves. Be on the alert and learn to distinguish them from doves. If you mistakenly kill one, thinking it was a dove, you may face a fine.
18. Choke Tube For Dove Hunting
While there is no single best choke for hunting doves, using a modified or improved cylinder choke tube will give you a wider pattern for hunting doves. Many hunters use a tight choke that makes it difficult to hit the dove with its speed, size, and maneuverability. An open choke tube improves your chances of hitting the dove and not destroying the dove if you hit it at close range.
19. Dove Hunting With Eye Protection
At the start of dove season, chances are the sun will be bright and seeds, debris, dirt and other particles will be blowing around. You will be looking upward constantly and there is always the possibility of a stay-shot pellet coming down on your stand and into your eye. You will need eye protection from these objects.
20. Edges and Corners
Always keep your eyes open for edges and corners. Birds love corners and edges. If you find edges and corners, you just might find birds eating and moving in those parts of a field.
21. Leave Your Dog At Home
You may want to take your dog with you dove hunting. But if he is not well trained, that could be a ruined hunting day. He may run through all of the fields, and go past everyone’s stand, ignoring your commands and screams. If your dog is not properly trained, just leave him at home. You can learn how to train your hunting dog from this article.
22. Scout, Scout, Scout
Scouting can not be overstated for any kind of hunting. You will need to get valuable information about the behavior of the birds. You can learn their flight paths between roosting areas, food fields, and water sources.
You can also learn where they come in on a field. Scouting is very important for a successful hunting season. A hunting binocular can be used for effective scouting. You can read the review on the best hunting binoculars to help you choose the right one for your hunting needs.
23. Dove Hunting On the Stool
Using the hunting stool is great as you wait for birds to come your way. If you have a situation in which birds are headed right your way, passing dead overhead, be aware of leaning back too far.
You will tumble over backward and this is a dangerous situation with a loaded gun. If this happens to you, try to keep the gun pointed skyward and get the safety back on before trying to get back up.
24. Pattern the Shotgun
Before hunting, take some time to pattern your shotgun. You will find the right shot size, powder dram equivalent, and make of shotshell for your individual shotgun and choke tube. It can also help you determine the maximum range you can shoot before the pattern breaks down.
25. Second Dove Hunting Season
The second dove season is more like real hunting season. The birds are fully grown, full-feathers, and fly faster than the birds in September. Your shooting ability will be truly put to the test as the birds are skittish and the days are blustery.
26. Water Sources
All living things need water. Doves need water as they feed primarily on seeds and the water aids digestion. They will not roost or nest very far from a water source. Look for water sources with little vegetation around the shore. Doves don’t want too much vegetation to obstruct them.
27. Light Loads At the End of Summer
When it is at the end of summer, you don’t want to use high loads for dove hunting. Instead, use the lightest loads at this time for dove hunting. You really don’t need a lot of killing power for doves.
28. Look For Food Sources
Doves are seed eaters. Doves like eating on bare ground as their legs are not strong enough to scratch through litter or other bigger pieces of debris. They go for sunflower seeds, corn, wheat, oats, weed seeds, and other grains. Scout for these grains in the fields and you will find doves nearby.
29. Overshoot the Target
When shooting doves, overshoot as if you are going to miss. This will make you hit more doves as they cross in front of you. Overexaggerate your lead by 6 feet or more. This will ensure your barrel should be 6 inches in front of the dove. An inch of barrel movement should equal about 1 foot of distance when shooting targets in the air.
30. Using Decoys
You might get closer shots at doves when using decoys. Space them four or five decoys apart and double up a pair or two.
31. Flat-Footed Stance
If you are standing on rough ground or on divots, you should be flat-footed. How you stand to shoot is very important.
32. Doves Descending
When a dove is coming in on your decoys or about to land on a fence or power line, allow it to begin the descent, and then begin your swing below it. You should pull the trigger just as the gun barrel blocks the bird from sight.
33. Correct Gun Mount
Always make sure you mount the gun correctly. Always take time when shouldering on a bird coming your way and be sure your cheek is on the stock. If that is not the case, you will shoot high.
34. Doves Coming From Behind
When you face a situation in which the dove comes in from behind you and flies in front of you, you can catch up to it by using a front lead. You will have to aim a few inches below the bird to shoot in front of it.
35. Shooting While Sitting
There are many scenarios in which you will have to shoot very quickly while you sit. Try to keep a good form and focus on your gun mount. It is also a good idea to practice shooting from a sitting position before the hunting season begins.
The Bottom Line
Dove hunting is one of the most challenging wing shootings you will experience. Doves are very smart in evading their predators. They fly high, are small targets, and employ evasive maneuvers. These dove hunting tips can help you take down more doves during the hunting season whether you are a beginner dove hunter or have been hunting them for many years.
You can also read the best quail hunting tips, the best duck hunting tips, the best pheasant hunting tips, the best turkey hunting tips, how to hunt teal, how to hunt snipe, and the best goose hunting tips.