John's Journal...

The Mystery Dove Field – Why Birds Came There

Day 2: Taking 15 Doves with 20 Shots for a $100 Reward

Editor’s Note: All hunters look forward to the opening of dove season each fall throughout the country, since dove season officially starts the year’s hunting season. I was hunting doves this past weekend on opening day of dove season, when a new/old friend, Keith Tate of Dora, Ala., invited me on a dove hunt. Tate’s family had hunted this property for about 100 years, and the only time I’d met Tate was as a youngster, hunting doves with his dad and granddad, when I interviewed them for my outdoor radio show 35-years ago.

Click for Larger ViewI met an interesting young sportsman this year at the dove hunt. Although many youngsters cut grass, do chores or have parttime jobs after school to earn extra money, Jacob McDonald’s dad of Argo, Alabama, had a better idea. His son is an excellent wing shot, and his dad thought that if he could give his son an incentive to become a better wingshooter, he could help his son become the best he could at a sport he really loved – an idea I totally believe works. This fun story contains wisdom for all outdoorsmen.

Click for Larger ViewFifteen-year-old Jacob McDonald of Argo, Alabama, had the opportunity to make $100 on opening day of dove season. He explained, “My dad said that if I took 15 doves with 20 shells, he’d give me $100, and if I didn’t, I couldn’t go coon hunting with my buddies on that night. We really have a good time coon hunting, so I wanted to go with my friends. I decided to get to the dove field early and start working on those doves.” We dove hunters don’t know if McDonald met his goal and won his $100 and got to go coon hunting with his friends, but he was the first hunter on opening day to take his limit of doves.

Although talented as a wing shooter, McDonald also found ways to take more doves more quickly. He watched where the doves entered and exited the field. Generally most hunters who take stands and set-up their dove stools and ice chests and bring several boxes of shells, bug spray and a bowl of water for their retrievers to the field are reluctant to move, even when very-few birds come-by them. However, McDonald didn’t have a stool, water or a dog. Once he observed the dove field and determined flyways that the doves took between the standers, he moved to those positions where a good number of birds were flying. Then he had more targets to shoot at than the other hunters and could take the doves that presented him with the best shots.

Click for Larger ViewThe weather’s very warm and even hot during dove season, particularly in the South. Often high weeds are in the dove fields or surrounding them. In the South, those high weeds often home an abundance of redbugs (chiggers). So, if doves fly across a field heading to a thick, grassy area, most hunters will avoid trying to take those doves. They don’t want to go out in those high weeds to retrieve them, but not McDonald. If the doves were flying over high weeds, he’d back-up next to those weeds wearing his camouflage to blend-in with the foliage behind him. Click for Larger ViewThen when the doves started coming to him, he’d stay still until the birds were within range, come-up and take them.

Doves don’t have big brains. However, they can learn. On a dove field, the birds learn to survive quickly. So, when a shoot starts, and the doves begin to come-in, they often start flying across the places where no one wants to hunt, except McDonald. That’s one of the main reasons he takes more doves more quickly than the other hunters hunting in the same field. He’s mobile, observant and hunts the places that no one else wants to hunt. To take more doves this season, try these tactics. You’ll drastically increase your odds for taking doves.

Tomorrow: The Best Dove Shoot Ever

Check back each day this week for more about "The Mystery Dove Field – Why Birds Came There "

Day 1: Why Doves Came to a Field that Had No Food
Day 2: Taking 15 Doves with 20 Shots for a $100 Reward
Day 3: The Best Dove Shoot Ever
Day 4: A Four Generation Dove Hunt
Day 5: Tips for Improving Your Dove Hunt This Year

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Entry 630, Day 2