Dove hunting is tradition in the southwest if you live in a state like Arizona such as I do you do not have many opportunities to hunt. But when September 1st roles around the desert erupts like the 4th of July. Dove hunting is one of the most common activities that hunters participate in. Plus it is a great way to get your children involved in hunting.
1.Be sure to get your migratory bird license. Due to the Migratory Bid Treaty Act 1918 Doves are regulated one the federal level. Your states small game license will not cover dove.
2.Practice: Get some clay pigeons and practice your lead time and shooting in different positions.
3. Scout: If you have time to get pre season look for places that hold water such as cattle drinkers as well as food and nesting trees.
Dove’s are most active at first sun so when you are getting in your spot and getting ready to shoot be sure to be in position by first light. Once the sun comes up the doves will start to hide in dense bushes and roost in the trees. So the later the day goes on you will probably have to start flushing them. If you cant make it out by first light then head out about 2 hours before sundown. Either get in position to sit or start flushing. The doves will start to come out of their roost to get to their food and water later in the day. when the doves start a flyin you start shooting. Unless you have an area with great food and water such as a farm field.
Sunrise: Fly to eating area
Early AM: Might go to water
Mid AM: Fly to roost to rest
Early afternoon: Still resting
Mid afternoon: Fly to eating area
Late afternoon: Fly to water to drink
Twilight: Fly back to roost
When it comes down to it you have 4 type of dove hunters. The one that has access to farm fields and the ones that don’t. The ones who like to sit in one spot and the ones that like to flush them out.
Don’t have a dog that is fine especially if you are hunting with a group. If you like to walk with friends and flush the birds out be sure to wear your hunter orange. But if you like to sit back in the tree line then camo up.
This is my preferred method when dove hunting, I enjoy finding the birds plus I get impatient at times.
If you are flushing doves with your friends or a hunting group I find it easier to split in to groups of two. Split in to quadrants if you have multiple groups. Doing this will reduce the risk of getting peppered by other hunters pellets. When in your group of 2 walk with about 10 yards between you and shoot in the direction you are in. So if you are on the left once the dove gets to your left you shoot same goes for right.
If you decide to sit and wait for the doves to land get tight on the tree-line so you can conceal your body . Doves will see you when they are flying and will tend to fly away. The tree-line should be on the side of a field so there is plenty of food or water for the doves to come down to. Set up your Decoys and Once they come in and land blast away. If you cant find a tree line by the water or field create a make shift blind with your surroundings or use camo netting to conceal your self but still have an adequate view and easy over head flying shots in case they are not coming in to land.
Exaggerate your lead: Overshoot like you’re going to miss. You’ll shoot at most doves as they cross in front of you. Work at over exaggerating your lead by 6 feet or more, which means your barrel needs to be 6 inches in front of the dove. One inch of barrel movement equals about 1 foot of distance when you’re shooting targets in the air.
Shooting from Behind: When a dove flys over you and is flying away from you. You will need to aim a few inches below the bird in order to shoot ahead of it.
When it comes down to it as fun as Dove hunting is it is more than just walking out in a field and sitting. Practice and patients make perfect. These tips should get you on your way to becoming a successful dove hunter and soon you will be counting down the days until September 1st!