The opening weekend for dove season usually marks the end of summer and the beginning of the upcoming hunting season. This is normally the first weekend in September and is also the opening weekend for College football. I have always remembered the opener being more of a get together where everyone got together to cook, hunt doves, watch football and have a good time.
If you have never been dove hunting, it is by far one of the cheapest and most social forms of hunting you can enjoy. It requires far less equipment and money than duck or deer hunting. Basically all you need are a valid hunting license, a shotgun, shells and a place to go.
The first 3 are fairly simple, but having a place to go maybe a bit more difficult. So, I will go over areas to look for and what areas will hold birds.
Doves typically like areas that have a blend of trees, food, water, roost and a place to get sand or gravel. If you can find power lines or a few dead trees around a place that doves like to feed or water, you have likely found a perch that the birds will land before the go to the ground to eat or drink. These areas are usually dove magnets, so try and find the spot within the spot.
Doves love small seeds like sunflowers, milo, millet, corn and goat weed. They prefer areas to feed where they can reach the dirt, as they have short legs that are not very strong.
Doves will typically go to drink water fairly early in the morning and again before they roost. The places they like to water are free of weeds or tall grasses on the bank. Doves like a smooth or sandy bank that gives them security and an easier path to drink.
The best times to hunt doves are typically the first 3 hours of daylight and the last 3 hours of daylight. It is normally very hot during the midday and the birds are resting in trees and relatively inactive.
The best areas to kill doves are funnel points in the area that you have chosen. Doves will typically have a few entrance points and exit points. Pay close attention to find these flight funnels and get there as soon as you have established a flight pattern.
Doves do have decent eyesight, but you do not have to hide like you would for hunting turkey or waterfowl. BUT, I always wear camo and try in get in the shade to conceal my human outline. If you are hunting a cut field and you can’t find a tree or other object to hide beside, you may have to construct a small blind of some sort. A lot of companies sell small folding blinds that you can sit in the middle of that are fairly lightweight and will still keep you hidden.
You will need to get comfy as you may be there a while. I love the Plano Dove Stool Field Box. It has a shoulder strap that you can carry it in with and a padded seat cushion to keep you comfortable. It can carry your shells in and you dead doves out as well as a few drinks to boot. There is nothing worse than not having a place to put your stuff and getting ants on your dead birds or having to carry your gear with your hands full.
Early season doves are a sucker for decoys. The opening weekend I will deploy 2 mojo doves and up to 12 clip on decoys. If you are hunting a 40 acre field, these will almost guarantee the birds will give you a look. After the first weeks of season, the doves will be much more weary of the decoys, so pay attention when they start to flare off of them.
Well, that is it for where to hunt and things to look for. Next week I am going to be going over shooting and other aspects of hunting these little grey rockets.