September dove hunting begins just prior to the teal and other waterfowl seasons by just a few days. It provides a warm-up opportunity for the waterfowl hunter.
With backswept wings and long pointed tails, these little gray rockets have a cruising speed of 30 to 40 miles per hour and can reach 60 in short spurts. Couples that with their ability to bob and weave at the same time and you have a very tough target.
Estimates are that the hunter fires three times for each bird he hits. Many hunters, if they are truthful, will not do that good. They are a bird that can humble the best shotgunner.
Perhaps the three basic elements of dove hunting are location, concealment, and patience.
Understanding the flight habits of the birds the key to selecting a stand location. In the morning they fly into water or areas containing gravel for grit. In the evening they fly to the water again and then to trees to roost for the night. Advance scouting an area prior to the hunt helps to learn the flight path of the birds.
A good pair of binoculars comes in handy. You can scout a number of locations more quickly if you do not have to travel all the way into the fields. A drive down nearby roads can allow the hunter to look over a variety of locations in less time.
On the day of the hunt study the flight of the birds already traveling in and out of the field. Then choose a location that best allows you to be within 40 yards of that flight path. Forty yards should be a maximum shooting distance. Such things as wind direction and structure on the ground influence flight paths.
Avoid locations that require you shooting into the sun. Nothing spoils a shot than swinging into the sun just before you pull the trigger.
Once you select the shooting position find a place for concealment in that location. The good locations are often on the edge of grain fields or beneath a large tree with bare limbs. Doves like to land in such trees to survey the field below for danger. Once satisfied that there is no danger, they then drop down into fields to feed or to water holes to quench their thirst.
Some hunters prefer a hill near the fields allowing better vision of approaching birds. But, that also exposes them to approaching flights.
Wherever one choose to set up camouflage is important. That is both clothing and the surrounding vegetation. Bushes and tall grass are usually good to help conceal the hunter. Camouflage clothing must match the surrounding environment.
The spot must be comfortable so you do not fidget. It is vital to sit still as movement often spooks approaching birds. A cooler is often a chair of choice. It not only provides a place to sit, but can also store, soft drinks, and sandwiches. It also can hold harvested birds. Be sure to bring plenty of water. If you are hunting with a dog, double that amount of water.
On the subject of water, in hot weather dehydration it is very easy for both you and your dog without being aware of it. There is a saying among desert hunters that fits very well. “Once you become thirsty, you are already dehydrated.” For that reason take regular sips of water even if you are not thirsty.
Dove hunting is not physically demanding sport. But, it does demand shooting skill. Trips to the trap and skeet ranges are a good idea. They not only sharpen shooting skills but they also help to train the eye to spot small targets flying at fast speed.
Article Written By; Don Gasaway,