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John's Journal... Entry 162, Day 1


Opening-Day Dove Hunting

EDITOR'S NOTE: Decoying and calling doves makes for an exciting, fun-filled sport. This tactic allows the landbound hunter to experience the thrills of waterfowl-type hunting, calling and decoying while actually hunting doves. The decoying and calling makes the sport of doveing more than a shooting sport and more than a hunting sport -- putting it on the same level as good waterfowling without the bad weather. With the proper equipment and knowledge about doves, outdoorsmen can enjoy one of the best wing-shooting sports in America today.

As doves poured into the field, the shooting became fast and furious. On the horizon, I could see gray specks falling from the sky like snowflakes. Off to my right, I spotted a pair of birds coming toward me -- skirting the edge of the field and darting in and out of the treeline. "I easily can make this shot," I told myself. "If I get lucky, I can double-up on this pair of birds." But as I watched the birds come in, I saw movement in the sky slightly off to my left. Another dove flew straight for the tree under which I sat. Looking at that bird and then turning swiftly to face the two incoming birds, I calculated that the three doves would pass by my shooting position at approximately the same time. So, my brain began to work overtime, trying to figure out my distance from the birds and which bird I should take a shot at first. But the pea-sized computer between my ears became overloaded with information and failed to give an accurate answer as to which bird to shoot first. I had no time for recalculations, because the doves had flown well within gun range. I had to shoot rapidly or miss my opportunity. Instinctively, I swung to try and take the lead bird of the pair of doves off to my right. Just as I squeezed the trigger, the bird that had come in straight in front of me dove across my sight plane and broke my concentration as the gun fired. Although I missed, I recovered quickly to try to take the trailing dove of the twosome that had flown in from my right. My second shot missed too. However, just as the last bird slipped over a small beech tree on the edge of the field, I fired again. A cloud of feathers indicated that I finally had corrected my aim.

Opening day of dove season often can result in a frustrating frenzy of fast shooting, plenty of birds and much-spent powder. But after opening day, the wild and timid surviving doves know how to dodge hunters. Dove shooting then becomes dove hunting -- an altogether different sport.

After opening day, the sportsman must ask himself...
* where do the doves roost,
* where and when do the doves feed,
* where and when do the doves gravel and
* where do the doves water?

To learn the answers to these questions, ride the roads, and watch the doves along the sides of the roads. If you can determine the birds' routines, then you can begin to answer these questions. To learn about the doves on the land you plan to hunt, talk to the landowner. Usually a landowner can tell you where and about what time he usually sees doves. From this information, you can work out a hunt plan. To take the most doves, you must position yourself along the routes the doves fly to food, water, gravel and the roost. Often, just taking a position along the doves' normal flight pattern will provide some good shooting. But many times the doves won't come in close enough to allow the shooter a close-range target. Often too, doves will loaf that don't want to go to water, gravel or the roost in the hunter's gun range.




Check back each day this week for more HOW TO DECOY AND CALL DOVES ...

Day 1 - Opening-Day Dove Hunting
Day 2 - Dove Hunting At A Soybean Farm
Day 3 - Moving From the Water to the Field
Day 4 - Decoys and Loafin' Trees
Day 5 - Making Your Spreads

John's Journal