Focus on where and what, and you’ll find dove hunting is as easy as it is fun.
Dove hunting is one of the most popular game bird hunting sports going. More than 20 million doves—and upwards of 40-70 million—are shot each year, making the dove the most harvested game animal in the country. Hunting doves is pretty simple too. Follow these tips and you too can get in on the action.
The first thing to figure out is location. Where are doves going to be and can you hunt there? When scouting for doves there are three primary things that attract them: food, water, and grit.
Doves can be found almost anywhere. We see them in our yards and in city lots. That’s because they are seed eaters, and anywhere there are weeds there are going to be seeds as well. But if you want to find them in quantity you need to search for areas where there is plenty of feed to attract them. Harvested grain or seed crop fields are a given, as doves will frequent such places looking for food.
If you’ve got a woodlot or tree line adjacent to the field, so much the better. Not only will it provide doves with cover and roosting habitat, but it will provide you with concealment, which we’ll get to in a minute.
Doves will also seek out watering holes such as muddy ponds or stream banks where tall vegetation is lacking. Ponds with gravelly or muddy shores are best. Even puddles will work. And if these are located near roosting habitat, so much the better.
Finally, places like rural gravel roads or sandy areas provide grit that doves need to help their gizzards grind the seeds they consume. You probably know what I’m going to say next: yes, if you can find such places close by roosting, feeding and/or watering habitat then you’ve hit the trifecta.
There’s no question of finding a good place to hunt at Ox Hunting Ranch. They’ve got great dove hunting locations throughout the property.
Next, you need to be concealed. Doves have keen eyesight and can spot a hunter with ease. Wear camo, cover your face with cloth or paint, and sink into the surrounding vegetation or treeline. Consider making a blind of sorts, from corn stalks, fallen tree limbs, or surrounding brush. If there’s a manmade structure nearby, use it. Just get out of sight.
Use decoys. Doves are like most other birds in that they are attracted to areas where it looks like other doves already are. They’re not the smartest of birds and can easily be fooled by the presence of decoys. Decoys can be store bought or homemade, three dimensional or cardboard silhouettes. The good thing is that they are small – the size of a dove – and several can be easily carried to your ambush site.
The key to good decoy placement is height. Set them up as high as you can so that travelling doves will see them quickly and easily. Attach decoys to fences, about a foot apart, and to tree limbs. If you are going to place any on the ground, place them in barren patches, free from vegetation or at the edge of a puddle or watering hole.
Doves are fast flyers and you’ll likely miss as many as you kill. They can fly at over 55 mph and are adept at aerial maneuvers that will cause you to look at your gun as though there’s something wrong with it. Carry a lot more shells with you than you think you’ll need, because you will need them.
When wingshooting doves there is a lot of advice and information out there. All I can say is that it is best to focus on one dove at a time, and when you’re leading a dove and you pull ahead and see daylight between your shotgun and the dove, pull the trigger.
That’s all you really need to know about dove hunting. Find a place that doves frequent, conceal yourself well, and bring a shotgun with plenty of ammo. Set up some decoys too to increase your odds. No doubt there will be plenty of great opportunity for some wild and wooly dove hunting at Ox Hunting Ranch.