I love the beginning September as it always signals buying boxes, or sometimes cases, of shotgun ammunition, camo buckets with padded seats and flying birds. It is hard to beat bacon wrapped dove breasts this time of year. In my part of Central Texas, the birds really don’t start flying good until later in September but opening weekend is always a good social event and a great excuse to get out of the house and in the great outdoors and this year was no different.
September marks the start of a new fiscal year in our great state of Texas and the start of a new hunting license year begins now as well. I worked the Oatmeal Festival for my good friends at DB Hunting Ranch and DB Wild Game Processing & Taxidermy in Bertram, Texas the opening weekend of dove season and conveniently purchased my TPWD Super Combo hunting and fishing license while I was there at their retail store. This year I again purchased my federal duck stamp and, new for this year, an annual public lands permit. I plan to do some duck hunting with some fellow outdoor podcasting buddies when that season rolls around. I digress!
After the festival activities died down a bit, my good friend Danny Barry and I, along with some of his friends, went out dove hunting on one of his ranch properties. Now I will admit that I am not the best wing shot you have met. I am alright at sporting clays and skeet and I try to get in practice as the opportunities present themselves, but it is still quite a challenge to hit a bird after it has been shot at before as they fly erratically just about every time they catch the notion something is flying towards them.
One of the tactics I have used for many years now is a high quality spinning-wing dove decoy. Now keep in mind, I only have one of these that I bought at Academy several years ago but it has worked well for me hunt after hunt and season after season. You can also invest in a dozen or so clip-on stationary decoys which you can put in trees and on fence lines but the best thing to catch a dove’s eyes from a distance is something with movement.
Dove hunting is one of the simplest hunting traditions to embark on regarding the preparation and equipment you use. Simply load up your shotgun, some shotgun shells, a bucket to sit on and a few cold drinks and you are set for the morning or afternoon hunt. A spinning-wing dove decoy along with some stationary clip on decoys can up your game in many ways and decoys are something I don’t leave home without. What is nice is that they come with affordable prices, no matter what kind you buy, making them a great item for hunters on a tight budget.
My best hunting tactic is to hunt tanks or ponds if they are present on the property your hunt. This year, we had a ton of goat weed growing where I hunted which made the action even better. Of course, you can find dove flyways near sunflower fields and elsewhere there is a good natural food source. Hunting around water sources has always paid off for me though. I station motorized decoys around a tank, usually on the tank’s dam area, on higher ground. Many times, doves will fly right into the decoys and give you the tactical advantage of ambushing them as they come in or at least fly by to take a closer look.
There is much more than can be written here about shot size selection, leading birds correctly on different approach scenarios and the list goes on but my main point of this article was to get you a ninja tactic or two to help you bring more birds into your area, so you can have better hunting opportunities and bragging rights around your friends. Be safe, have fun and have an awesome day in the outdoors!
Story by Dustin Vaughn Warncke