I can still remember my first Dove hunt I went on like it was yesterday. Early in September one year, around sunset my Grandpa got the shotguns out handing me his .410 and a box of shells and said, “Let’s go get some Dove for dinner”. As we walked down to the stock pond he schooled me on the fine art of Dove hunting. He told me how Dove would fly in to the pond and drink before roosting. Needless to say, I had a lot of fun and was hooked for life on Dove hunting.
Dove hunting is fairly inexpensive when compared to other hunting sports. A chair, box of shells, your gun and you are ready to go! Always remember to have hunting safety on your mind.
Let’s face it, safety is a good thing. Being a safe, responsible hunter is the most important goal of any hunting trip. Some people enjoy taking their dogs to the Dove field. If you chose to take your dog, and then make sure you have enough water for fido so dehydration problems can be avoided. I personally like to take my lab Dove hunting as a warm-up to waterfowl season.
Here are some tips you can go over to ensure that Dove trip is enjoyable;
Some type of shooting glasses are a must, the sun is still very bright this time of year. Tinted, polarized glasses are my favorite; they are usually my fishing glasses. A good hat is a must for Dove hunting. One with a brim all the way around it works very well.
There is the Dove hunter’s 5-gallon bucket that is very popular. The seat will swivel 360 degrees. It also serves as a holding bin for everything the hunter might need. It will give him storage place while providing a place to sit. You can fill it full of drinks and shells.
I am more partial to my folding chair and a Coleman cooler right next to me. There are some folding stools on the market that work quite well. They may have carrying straps or pockets on the bottom. Most of the time I prefer to stand when I am dove hunting, I like to be mobile.
You might be happy with just a daypack. My Cousin uses his Duck hunting blind bag. You can figure out what works best for your situation.
Dove hunting usually is done in hot weather. Make sure you have plenty of water with you for yourself, your companions and especially your dog. Keeping your dog damp can help, and keeping a full water dish in front of him at all times is important. Freezing water bottles the night before and drinking them as they melt can also help keep you cool. Sometimes, I just freeze half a bottle and top it off in the morning with cool water. Either of these methods will give you good cold water to drink during the hunt.
On a long day it’s a good idea to pack some high-energy snacks like beef jerky and trial mix. You can add a powdered recovery drink mix, like Propel or Gatorade to your water bottle to keep your energy and Hydration levels up all day. Candy bars or energy drinks just don’t do the job.
A camouflaged shirt and hat are a good idea and hunting stores are having all kinds of sales on light camo this time of year. You can be assured that summer-weight camouflage is always flying off the shelves at reduced prices.
Camo comes in everything from simple cotton T-shirts to hi-tech breathable fabrics. You can use this type of camo now and also during the approaching early deer season, green camouflage patterns are the ones to go for this time of year.
Whatever the size or action of your gun, you must know it and know it well. Know what its needs are. Clean it, practice shooting, make sure it’s working well and load it with the right ammunition.
A light load can work well for shooting dove, but hunters with auto-loaders need to make note of the amount of shot and powder in a load. Your load has to be powerful enough to make the gun function properly.
“Some light loads don’t have the power or back pressure to operate auto-loaders,” he said. Inertia-driven shotguns like Benelli recommend a minimum load of 1⅛-ounces of shot with 3 drams of powder. The wrong loads can lead to having a jammed up auto-loader or one that only operates like a single-shot.
Within that bucket, cooler or pack, carry some garbage bags and Zip lock bags for cleaning your birds and cleaning up after the mess. Nothing is worse than arriving for a hunt the third day of dove season, only to find you’ve parked on someone’s left-behind rotting carcasses.
Dove breasts are easy to “pluck” but some find that kitchen shears can make removing the wings a faster, cleaner task. Extra water and some hand wipes can make the process a little more sanitary and enjoyable as well. Have plenty of ice on hand to cool down that meat. Better flavor will be your reward later on.