Tips for Dove Hunting
Each fall, typically sometime around Labor Day weekend, hunters gather over family-owned farm fields for the opening weekend of Dove season. Many states are renowned for exciting dove hunts and World Class Outdoors features hunting guides and outfitters that welcome hunters to their prepped wing-shooting areas for an action-packed dove hunt! Much preparation goes into the success, enjoyment and safety of these hunts. It is a huge benefit to enjoy an exciting hunt without having to manage the property and prepare the area for the hunt.
Dove hunting seasons vary from state to state, zone to zone. Typically starting in September and running through October. In many areas, the weather is still warm. Plan for a hot weather hunt by bringing plenty of water, sun screen, insect repellant and snake chaps. Chaps can be hot, but better to be a little sweaty than snake bit!
Dove are migratory birds and they will search for other doves and good habitat, usually returning to the same grain fields year after year. Good dove habitat includes low ground cover or grain fields, nearby water source, and food sources (often the grain fields where they are hunted). Decoys can be an effective technique to draw the birds in.
A trained retriever can be a nice addition to an exciting dove hunt. It is not a must, but sure can be helpful in locating those downed birds. That’s another reason to use the services of one of our featured Dove Hunting Outfitters or Guides. Help with game retrieval!
Dove Hunting Tips
- Dove are small targets – and need a tight pattern. Many types of guns are used but a 12, 16 and 20 are the most effective gauges for dove hunting.
- Dove decoys are very effective to draw in the birds. 15-20 clipped onto a dead tree branch is a great draw. Mojo makes a great motion decoy that is a effective addition to your decoy set.
- Morning and evening are the most productive times for dove hunts.
- Set up for success – your stance should be the direction the dove are flying to, not where they are coming from. You will have a much wider arc to aim and shoot. And standing to shoot, for most hunters, is more successful than sitting.
- Locate and retrieve fallen birds immediately. Dove will be almost impossible to find if they are not marked and retrieved as soon as possible.
- Bring quality polarized sunglasses. You’ll need them.
- A 5-gallon bucket or hunting chair will come in handy to rest during the slow times.
Dove Hunting Safety Tips
- Be aware of the location of every hunter in the field. Know their location, their level of experience and whether they are hunting with a dog, a child. Safety must be top priority!
- Be familiar with your weapon. Practice target shooting and clay shooting prior to season. Always treat the gun as if it is loaded – even when you know it is not. Just common curtesy.
- Wear sunscreen and insect repellant. Nobody wants to bring home a load of chiggars with their dove!
- Snake chaps are a must for hunting areas known for snakes. Might be a little uncomfortable, but much more comfortable than a snake bite!
- When hunting in a group, watch out for other hunters. Young hunters that might be prone to run out to retrieve a dove. Dogs might be over-excited.
- Bring plenty of water for hunters and dogs.
- Hunting and alcohol do not mix.
Dove Cooking Tips
Clean dove and marinate the breast for a few hours or possibly overnight in a favorite marinade. Italian dressing is a popular choice, but there are endless options. Wrap with bacon and secure with a toothpick. Throw them on the grill until the bacon is done and you are in for a delicious treat!