John's Journal...


Dove Decoying

EDITOR'S NOTE: Decoying and calling doves makes dove hunting an exciting, fun-filled sport. It also allows the land-bound hunter to experience the thrills of waterfowl-type hunting, calling and decoying, while actually hunting doves. It makes the sport of doveing on the same level as good waterfowling without the inclement weather. Dove season will open soon all across the U.S. This week we’ll give you tips and information to help you enjoy better dove hunting this fall.

A hunter once found a pond on a soybean farm where doves flew in to drink water late in the afternoon. The farm had had several dove shoots on it during the first three weeks of the season. Although the farm still had plenty of doves, they had become scattered and very wary. The water provided the best place to concentrate the gray ghosts of the skies. However, the birds flew from many directions to the large pond, and only a few of the doves came past the tree where the hunter hid. He had plenty of doves to shoot, but he couldn't get them in close enough to shoot most of the time. A friend of his suggested that he buy some dove decoys to reel the doves in toward him. He assumed that he could decoy doves just like ducks. Therefore, he went to his local sporting-goods store and purchased dove decoys.

Click to enlargeWhen the hunter’s dozen dove decoys arrived, he realized he had the same problem that waterfowl hunters did. He had to figure out how to get all of his equipment to the field and not get so bogged-down that he couldn't hunt. He learned about a chair pack, a stool with a large pack under it. He could carry this chair pack into the field like a backpack. He could put the decoys into the pack, place the pack on his back and shoot birds going to and coming from the pond. Then when he arrived at the pond, he could take the decoys out of the pack, place them in the trees, unfold the pack and have a comfortable dove stool. The decoys and this pack, along with the knowledge that the doves would come in to the water, helped him set up a perfect ambush for those smart doves that had dodged him for the past two weeks. The hunter headed for the pond and placed the dove decoys out on the limbs of the tree near where he sat. He watched as the elusive doves came in to the pond, spotted his decoys and then banked in to where he hid for some socializing before they took a drink of water. The decoys worked like a charm luring the socially-minded mourning doves to within gun range.

Click to enlargeBelieving that late-season dove hunting could parallel waterfowl hunting and seeing that decoys worked for doves near water just like they worked for ducks, the hunter wondered if he could call to doves. He presented this problem to David Hale, one of the originators of the Knight and Hale Game Calls Company in Cadiz, Kentucky, who told him, "Sure, you can call doves. I blow on a round, wooden owl hooter while covering the front hole of the call and then releasing it. The hooter gives the perfect cooing sound made by the doves. I've called in plenty of doves on the owl hooter -- especially in roosting areas. If the doves can see and hear what resembles other doves, they have to come and investigate."

Click to enlargeThe hunter again set out his decoys. When he spotted doves approaching, he began to give calls on the owl hooter like Hale had taught him. The doves responded to the calling and the decoys. Just like waterfowl, the doves would bank, turn and come in to his spread. Decoying and calling doves really became exciting. Although he knew he hadn't mastered calling, he found out he could work mourning doves in to range. And the satisfaction that came from good calling and decoying welled-up inside him. He realized that he could work doves around water in the same way that he could work waterfowl over water.


Check back each day this week for more about “HOW TO DECOY AND CALL DOVES”

Day 1: Dove Hunting
Day 2: Dove Hunting After Opening Day
Day 3: Dove Decoying
Day 4: Moving Doves from the Water to the Field
Day 5: Making Your Spreads for Doves



Entry 315, Day 3