Skip to main content

How to Bag More Doves This Season

How to Bag More Doves This Season

If you've experienced a good, old-fashioned Southern dove hunt — well, then, you certainly can understand why mourning doves are the No. 1 sought-after and harvested game bird in the United States. If you haven't, then you don't know what you're missing!

DoveHunterandDog

Dove hunting is not only an incredible challenge from a wingshooting perspective, but it's also a unique social opportunity — one quite different from most of today's solitary brands of hunting adventures. And after the last shot has been fired, there are few things as delicious as bacon-wrapped jalapeno dove breasts grilled and served up with homemade coleslaw and a cold beverage.

MID-DAY HUNTS


If you've ever seen doves flock to a sunflower field on opening day with little to no hesitation, you might think that the swept-wing birds aren't all that bright when it comes to hunters and gunfire. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.


Doves, like any game bird, respond to hunting pressure in any of several different and often-frustrating ways. They may vacate an area all together. Or they might change their flight schedules, arriving later in the day or earlier in the morning. Or, they'll avoid blinds, and flare wildly at uplifted faces, unruly retrievers and shiny shotguns.

When these inevitable changes take place during the first week of the season, try a mid-day hunt. True, dove hunting is typically thought of as an early morning or late afternoon venture. However, hunting pressure can often tweak the birds' internal clocks, with their need-to-feed kicking in at a more traditional human lunchtime as opposed to breakfast or supper.

Ten o'clock to 2 or 3 in the afternoon is my preferred time for locating these hard-to-find mourners. I prefer overcast or even slightly rainy days. If possible, I'll position myself away from the edges where other hunters have shot from.

I'll watch for flight lines to develop — those paths the birds seem to prefer as they enter and exit a field. Should such a line reveal itself, I'll reposition and spend my lunchtime pass-shooting singles and pairs as they come and leave. It's all about improvising, adapting and adjusting.




RUNNING THE ROADS

Perhaps you're lucky enough to be best pals with a gentleman who owns a large sunflower field. Perhaps he's been kind enough to invite you to hunt opening day of dove season. If that's the case, I'd highly recommend taking the fellow a bottle of the county's finest local bourbon because friends like that are few and far between.

However, if you're like many of us who have to find our own honey-hole for opening day, there's plenty of work to be done. When it comes to doves and locating huntable numbers, there's nothing as reliable or as effective as running the roads.


A full tank of fuel, a set of binoculars and a map of the county is all that's really necessary. Got a copy of your state's gazetteer by Delorme Mapping or an app like OnXmaps, which shows owner boundaries.

Morning and late afternoon are the best times to run the roads. Typically, you're looking for mourners perched on powerlines, where they sit before dropping into an active feed field. Note the location on the map or app. Check the app to see who the owner is, or mark down the  addresses you might find on mailboxes or 9-1-1 markers.

With these notes, later at home you can research the area and, often via the county tax assessor's website, locate the owner.

DEADLY DOVE DECOYS

Many hunters underestimate the effectiveness of dove decoys. Doves are tremendously social, gregarious birds. Like snow geese, they appear to be a rather greedy species when it comes to feeding. Researchers have found they key in on large numbers of their own to indicate an abundance of food.

Hunters can take advantage of this by using a number of decoys. But using dove decoys — and using them correctly — can be more than simply throwing out a half dozen pieces of plastic and hoping for the best.

First, the decoys have to be visible. That seems elemental, but too many gunners prop slate-gray decoys against a dirt backdrop without thinking about whether they can be seen from the air. Two or three decoys on the ground are fine. However, elevated decoys are seen much easier by passing birds.

Decoys clipped to bare branches or fences work well; manmade devices such as wires, poles, or even Mad Calls' new TreeCoy platform, can also be used effectively.

How many decoys? The more the merrier, it seems, when it comes to doves. A single spinner, like Mojo's Voodoo Dove, works wonders. A three-pack, with two 18 to 24 inches above the ground and the third elevated 3 to 5 feet, is even better.

Use these tips to add to the enjoyment and success of your next dove hunt.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New for 2021: Elite Archery Bows, Slick Trick Broadheads and CBE Sight

New for 2021: Elite Archery Bows, Slick Trick Broadheads and CBE Sight

Learn more about two new Elite Archery bows, the Enkore and Remedy, two new broadhead from Slick Trick and a new site from Custom Bow Equipment (CBE).

New for 2021: Excalibur Crossbow, BowTech Bows, TightSpot Quiver, Ripcord Rests, Black Gold Sights

New for 2021: Excalibur Crossbow, BowTech Bows, TightSpot Quiver, Ripcord Rests, Black Gold Sights

New for 2021 are several hunter-defined products, such as the Excalibur TwinStrike Crossbow, BowTech Solution and Solution SS Bows, TightSpot Pivot 2.5 Quiver, Ripcord Cage and Code Red X arrowrests, and Black Gold Pro FX and Pro Hunter HD sights.

New for 2021: Bear Redemption EKO, Legit RTH Compound Bows

New for 2021: Bear Redemption EKO, Legit RTH Compound Bows

Bear Archery's newest bows - Redemption EKO and Legit RTH - are light, adjustable and fast.

New for 2021: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

New for 2021: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

Bowhunter Editor Curt Wells had an exciting visit with Mark Hayes, design engineer for Mathews, as the pair looked at the new V3 27 and V3 31 bows.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

HyperFlite arrows improve accuracy, penetration.Barnett's Breakthrough Small-Diameter Crossbow Arrow Crossbows

Barnett's Breakthrough Small-Diameter Crossbow Arrow

Game and Fish Staff - December 09, 2020

HyperFlite arrows improve accuracy, penetration.

Enjoy canned venison warmed or use it in stews, chili, and other hot dishes.Canned Venison Recipe Wild Game

Canned Venison Recipe

Raschell Rule - January 15, 2021

Enjoy canned venison warmed or use it in stews, chili, and other hot dishes.

There are plenty of bowhunters who opt for the dependability of fixed-blade designs.New Fixed-Blade Broadheads for 2021 ATA Show

New Fixed-Blade Broadheads for 2021

Lynn Burkhead - January 11, 2021

There are plenty of bowhunters who opt for the dependability of fixed-blade designs.

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

See More Trending Articles

More Upland

This year's new shotguns and rimfires offer improved actions, lightweight components and better ergonomics to help you fill your bag.Game Getters: New Shotguns, Rimfires for 2020 Guns

Game Getters: New Shotguns, Rimfires for 2020

Game & Fish Staff - October 28, 2020

This year's new shotguns and rimfires offer improved actions, lightweight components and...

The countdown to opening day of dove season has begun. Are you ready?Food and Weather Key to Effective Dove Scouting Upland

Food and Weather Key to Effective Dove Scouting

Lynn Burkhead - August 20, 2020

The countdown to opening day of dove season has begun. Are you ready?

Some pre-hunt planning and a little additional effort can yield more public-land ruffed grouse.Grouse Hunting Off the Grid Upland

Grouse Hunting Off the Grid

Tony Peterson - October 30, 2020

Some pre-hunt planning and a little additional effort can yield more public-land ruffed grouse.

Chief Upland's new Over/Under vest built for wingshooters.World's First Customizable Front-Loading Hunting Vest Other Hunting

World's First Customizable Front-Loading Hunting Vest

Game and Fish Staff - December 07, 2020

Chief Upland's new Over/Under vest built for wingshooters.

See More Upland

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now