John's Journal...

Dove Hunting Vs. Dove Shooting

Day 4: The Flight Patterns of Doves and Where to Make Decoy Spreads

Editor’s Note: Dove season arrives soon all across the United States. As a sport, dove shooting is as traditional as a southern barbecue. But something new has been added: calling and decoying the gray speedsters.

Flight Patterns:

Click for Larger ViewIf my calling and decoying techniques helped me bag more doves over water, I assumed these same tactics also should pay dividends in the field. To give my strategy the best test, I decided to find a tree on the edge of a field where doves had been working, feed and lighting-in. I reasoned that calling doves in to decoys should follow the same principle that successfully calling any other game followed. That principle was, “If you try to call from an area where the game normally and naturally wants to go, then the game will come in easier and quicker. If you try to call from a region that is out of the game’s way, or where the game doesn’t want to go, the calling often can be very difficult and unsuccessful.”

Click for Larger ViewSo, I set my decoys in a tree where I had seen many doves sitting at different times of the day. I designated this tree a loafin’ tree, because doves flew into the tree and sat there for long periods of time – when they were not hungry, thirsty, needing gravel or wanting to roost. A loafin’ tree to a dove is like a country store is to rural residents – a place to hang-around to pick-up all the local information and be sociable with the folks there. And, when they see other birds perched there, they’ll usually come-in for a social call.

“One of the most-effective ways to place your decoys when you’re taking a stand under a loafin’ tree is to have at least two of the decoys on the same limb sitting side by side,” Harold Knight, another co-founder of Knight and Hale Game Calls in Cadiz, Kentucky, said. “If you’ll look at doves when they’re sitting in a tree, you almost always see two birds sitting close together on the same limb. That’s just the natural way to see doves. So, if you’re going to use your decoys effectively, they should look as lifelike as possible.”

Click for Larger ViewClick for larger ViewWhen I tried decoying doves in to my favorite loafin’ tree, I set two of the decoys side by side as Knight had suggested. Backing-off and looking at my setup, the scene did appear much-more natural than having birds scattered all over the tree. After putting the decoys out, I moved-in close to the trunk of the tree to look for incoming birds. When I saw doves passing close by, I cooed on the owl hooter and watched what happened to the doves. Although I couldn’t say for sure whether the calling or the decoying was the most effective, I did learn that by using decoys and calls, I was able to bring in many-more doves than if I simply had been sitting down next to a tree and praying that doves would fly overhead.

How to Hunt Deer Like a ProTo learn more about John E. Phillips’ beautifully-photographed books, many complete with how-to videos, go to, type in “Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” and when that comes up, click on the John E. Phillips’ author’s page to see a list of about 20 of his outdoor e-Books available on Kindle.

Tomorrow: Other Areas for Calling and Decoying Doves

Check back each day this week for more about "Dove Hunting Vs. Dove Shooting"

Day 1: Hunting the Beginning of Dove Season
Day 2: Dove Hunting – Not Dove Shooting
Day 3: Dove Calling
Day 4: The Flight Patterns of Doves and Where to Make Decoy Spreads
Day 5: Other Areas for Calling and Decoying Doves

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Entry 680, Day 4