The thrill and challenge of bagging your limit of birds make dove hunting one of the most rewarding and exciting hunts.
Here are tips to keep in mind when heading out to hunt these swift direction-changing creatures successfully.
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9 Surefire Dove Hunting Tips Every Beginner Needs to Keep in Mind
1. Use Camouflage
If you are serious about landing a kill, wear a net face mask and light gloves in addition to your camo or drab clothing as anything else will scream “Stay away” to the doves.
Also, take cover in nearby bushes, under trees or in the shade and stay motionless until the doves are well within your range markers’ sphere.
Tip: The slightest movement will send the birds aerial.
2. Accessorize Appropriately
Coupling your camo hunting outfit with the right accessories provides you with a more seamless hunting expedition, increasing your chances of success.
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For instance, quality polarized glasses will improve visibility regardless of the natural light conditions, not to mention how well a waist-belt with pouches will aid in carrying shotshells.
Having protective gear like snake chaps will come in handy if you hunt in areas inhabited by snakes.
- A detachable rifle sling will make carrying your shotgun over long distances more bearable.
- Since laying down while waiting can be tedious, a foldable stool will come in handy if you will be in one position for long.
- Also, having a tube of sunscreen will make your hunting responsible as it is fun.
- Similarly, chilled beverages are a great way to rehydrate on a hot hunting day.
Scouting is vital during hot-dove hunting as it helps you learn the flight route the doves use between water holes to food fields to roosting areas.
Therefore, making it easier for you to set up under their mostly used flight route. However, stay alert to adjust your position according to shifts in the primary routes. Exploring also applies when hunting in fields.
- The earliest you scout for the flight routes the more success you will have in your hunting.
- When dove hunting in fields, set up under corners as that is where most doves will come through.
- Anything that breaks up straight edges along paths or roads, for example, are often corners where doves fly by a lot.
4. Make the Doves Comfortable With Decoys
Displaying a good number of decoys on tall sticks, bare trees or fence lines in an open field sets you up with shots that you would have otherwise not landed.
While this will not attract all the doves in the area, you bet to catch the attention of some of the curious ones.
Remember: Only use decoys if they are legal in your preferred hunting zone.
Tip: Go for decoys that use batteries to spin the wings to make them as realistic as possible.
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5. Take Cover
Standing in random spots in a large hunting field and shooting at doves without planning is a sure way to waste your ammo. On the other hand, planning out your hunt and strategically staying out of sight will dramatically improve your success.
6. Use the Right Rifle
For instance, a 12- or 20-gauge shotgun would be better at shooting highly-pressured doves flying hot and high than a 28 gauge.
Similarly, an improved cylinder is the best choke tube choice if the doves are close and fast. Otherwise, a modified tube will suffice.
7. Range Markers
Going dove hunting is undoubtedly exciting, but if you do not contain the excitement, you will end up shooting doves out of your range which will be more often than not missed shots and wasted ammo.
Since estimating distance by eye can be misleading, set range markers at 35 to 40 yards around where you will be hiding and mark these out with fluorescent pieces of cloth. This way, it is easier for you to only shoot the doves in the circle.
Alternatively, have a laser rangefinder to keep you from shooting doves beyond your reach and increase your shot-to-dove ratio.
Tip: Decoys also make perfect range markers – only shoot doves within your decoy circumference.
8. Pattern Your Rifle
Though not the most fun part of dove hunting, patterning your rifle shows you your maximum range while identifying the choke-load combinations that will make hitting more doves and making clean kills easier.
- Since every pattern is different, shoot at least three patterns when testing chokes and shells.
- Do not expect an even pattern as all patterns have holes.
- You cannot elongate a rifle pattern by swinging your shotgun quickly.
9. Be Patient
Timing is everything during hunting. Single out a dove from the flock, focus on it and when the dove’s angle, speed and range are the most ideal, take the shot while simultaneously flipping the barrel forward with pressure from your left hand.
Check out this video as BobbyGuyFilms presents on an opening day dove hunt:
Shooting airborne targets can be challenging, but you are now equipped with all the necessary knowledge you need for a fun and successful hunt with these pointers. Gear up, get out and get your limit.
Do you have other dove hunting tips you would like to share with us? Let us know in the comment section below!
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