How to kill more than five doves per box of ammo

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I have heard that the national average is 5 doves per box of shells.  Which equates to 5 shots per dove.  I don’t know if this is an accurate statement or just something someone made up that sounded right.  I would say that is a fair statement in regards to the people I typically hunt with.

But, you will find there is an incredible amount of air around a dove when you start shooting at them.


So, I will give you some tips on how I kill more birds than 5 per box.

  • Take reasonable shots. It is east to want to shoot at every bird that is within 50 yards.  But, your chances of killing a dove at that range are minimal at best.  Try and find an area where the birds will be within 35 yards and you have just greatly increased your odds.
  • Follow through the shot. It has been said a bazillion times, don’t stop your barrel.  When you get on the bird and swing on it, keep your barrel moving as you pull the trigger and after you pull the trigger.  You don’t stop swinging a golf club when you impact the ball on the tee do you?  Exactly…follow through the bird and watch your average sky rocket.
  • Be still until you are ready to shoot. I see far too many people that will snatch up their gun when a bird is fast approaching and it will flare off and change course.  Keep your gun within an easy arms reach and don’t make fast or rapid movements when you are reaching for your gun.
  • Use the right shot. IMO the best shot sizes for doves are #7 ½ and #8’s.  The growing trend is to shoot high brass #6’s.  I personally feel as though this is a mistake.  You get more pellets per load with 7 ½’s & 8’s and doves don’t have thick feathers like a duck or goose.
  • Keep your head down. It is easy to want to look up at the birds coming in while you are trying to kill them.  However, you must resist this urge and keep your head on your stock or you will miss 100% of the time.
  • Shooting Doubles. The best tip for killing doubles is to single out the first bird and kill it FIRST.  Then, move onto the second.  Don’t start switching from bird to bird and try to kill the whole flock in one shot.  Mentally select a bird and fold it up before you even look elsewhere.
  • Open your choke. I personally shoot an open or skeet choke in my dove gun.  I think too many people are shooting modified and full chokes at doves and leave very little room for error.  If you pattern your gun with the above chokes, you want the most pellets at 35 yards and then shoot at 20 yards and see how tight your pattern is.
  • It sounds rather simplistic doesn’t it?  It is always a good idea to shoot some skeet before the season.  Don’t get lulled into standing behind the skeet thrower yelling “pull” and shoot the skeet flying directly away from you.  Get to one side and shoot the skeet as the cross you.  This is a much more realistic scenario and will help you in the field.

Be safe in the field.  There are more shells shot on opening weekend of dove season than in the entire duck season combined.  Yes, we all know people who do not have the best gun safety skills.   Be safe and know where everyone in the field is.  No dove is worth shooting someone over.  Know what is behind your target and don’t take any risky shots, it simply isn’t worth it.

Bring plenty of shells, because they are cheap and you may still miss more than you think!!

Well, I hope these few tips will help your birds per box average to go up this dove season.

Shane Smith

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