As summer comes to a close, the thoughts of outdoorsmen and women shift from barbecues and fly-fishing to the upcoming hunting seasons. In most areas, the first chance to head afield is dove season. Dove shooting is fun, the weather is warm, and bagging those quick little birds is great practice for other forms of upland shooting. These six tips will help you bag your limit come opening day.
Find a Field
If you planned ahead in the spring and planted sunflowers, corn, or sorghum on your property, this step may be as easy as stepping out the backdoor. However, if you don’t own land or don’t manage it specifically for doves you should start your search for your opening day hunting location now.
Many state DNRs plant dove fields and these public access areas can provide some good shooting. The only problem is that they are often overrun with hunters on opening day.
Drive country roads and look for a combination of food, power-lines, roosting trees, and a water source, then start knocking on doors. It’s often easier to gain permission to hunt doves than big game. Be persistent and don’t get discouraged if you get turned down and you’ll find a field to hunt.
Get Your Shooting in Shape
Don’t let opening day be the first time you pull your shotgun out of the gun case. Load that sucker up for a round of sporting clays and bring back your muscle memory so when those fast flying crossers go darting by, you’re ready to bring them to the ground.
The preseason is also the perfect time to pattern any new loads you are thinking of using in the upcoming season. Putting some shots on paper could be the the difference between a great day afield and a so-so one.
Make a Bucket List
A five gallon bucket is a great dove hunting accessory. Camouflage it, add a seat cushion, and sit in comfort while waiting on doves. The really beautiful thing is that it doubles as a storage container for all your gear.
Make a list of what you’ll need and fill your bucket with shells, sunscreen, insect repellant, food, and water. You’ll be comfortable and well fed on opening day.
Get Your License
Most hunters know that they need a state specific hunting license before they start shooting doves. However, some forget that doves are classified as a migratory bird. Hunters who want to chase these early season targets also need a migratory bird license from the state they are hunting.
Besides keeping you legal, purchasing a migratory bird stamp helps fund the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Commission’s efforts to manage and track migratory birds to ensure responsible harvests of this wildlife resource.
Call Some Buddies
Unlike some hunting activities, where solitude is the goal, dove hunting is a highly social event. Call some buddies and post shooters in different locations to keep the birds moving. It’s great to have some friends there to witness your expert shooting prowess or even to rib you when you miss.
Know the locations of your fellow hunters and practice proper gun safety and your sure to have a great time in the dove field.
Fire Up the Grill
What doves lack in size they make up for in flavor. There is no better way to end a day of dove hunting than to cook up all those tasty little birds you and your buddies have collected.
Plan your menu ahead of time and have seasonings, sides, and cooking utensils ready. Take the edge off with some bacon wrapped dove poppers while preparing a more elaborate main course. Add a glass of red wine and sit down with your buddies to recap the day’s hunt while you enjoy its culinary rewards.
Dove season is right around the corner. Will you be ready?