Night Hawk Stories... Entry 23
Dove Decoys and Calls
EDITOR'S NOTE: Mossy Oak's people have learned from experience that just because they go out and sweat in the hot sun of early fall, get bitten by redbugs in the grass and punctured by industrial-strength mosquitoes, they still may not take home a mess of doves. Let's look at some secrets for finding and taking doves that will make this season's gunning better than ever.
Often just taking a position along the doves' normal flight pattern will provide some good shooting. However, many times the doves won't come in close enough to give the shooter a close-range target.
Some hunters use dove decoys to reel in doves. You can buy some dove decoys, head for a pond and place them out on the limbs of a tree and hide nearby. Then as the elusive doves come to the pond, they'll spot your decoys and bank in for some socializing before drinking water. The decoys often will lure in the socially-minded mourning doves to within gun range.
David Hale, a partner in Knight and Hale Game Calls Company in Cadiz, Kentucky, and an avid Mossy Oak hunter, suggests that hunters will have more doves to take if the hunters will call to the doves. According to Hale, "I blow on a round, wooden owl hooter while covering the front hole of the call and then releasing it to give the perfect cooing sound made by the doves. I've called in plenty of doves on an owl hooter, especially in roosting areas. If the doves can see and hear what they believe to be other doves, they've just got to go and investigate."
So, after you set out your decoys again and see doves approaching, you can give calls on the owl hooter like Hale has recommended. The doves will respond to the calling and the decoys, and just like waterfowl, will bank, turn and come into your spread.
Also put the decoys on fence lines and in trees near your stand. To set up decoys effectively, place one or two decoys high enough and in trees open enough to allow the doves to see them at great distances. Then use six or eight decoys in the area where you hunt. You'll find that decoying and calling doves will make a difference in what you bag.
Tomorrow: Making the Shot