Night Hawk Stories... Entry 25
Dove Shooting Strategies and Situations
EDITOR'S NOTE: The winged warriors from hell, also known as mourning doves, streak across the fall sky like World War II Kamikaze pilots. Their ability to dive, pitch and roll will challenge the skills of even the best wing shooters like the hunters who work at Mossy Oak in West Point, Mississippi. Jim Porter, an expert dove hunter who works with Mossy Oak in West Point, Mississippi, shoots birds coming from different angles and offering different shooting opportunities.
Here's how Porter recommends you shoot specific doves.
* Bird Flying At You -- "If the bird flies toward you, bring the barrel of your gun from behind the bird and past a little bit to get the speed of your gun consistent with the bird's speed," Porter advised. "Then black the bird out with the barrel and squeeze the trigger. Since you've placed the shot in front of the bird, it will fly into the shot pattern."
* Bird Flying Away From You -- "Put the bead on this bird to get the speed consistent with the dove and shoot a little under the bird," Porter suggested. "Shooting under the dove in this situation equates to leading the bird."
* Shooting A Double -- "Unless you hunt in a clean field, when you down the first bird and then swing at the second one, you'll lose a little perspective of where the first bird has hit the ground," Porter mentioned. "So, shoot at the bird closest to you first. If that dove folds, swing off on the second bird, track it, get in front of it and shoot again."
On opening day of a new season, baseball players don't go to home plate and take their first swing. If they do, most often they'll strike out and rarely will they hit home runs.
To take more doves, go to a sporting-clays range, and take some shooting instruction before the season opens. Regardless of how well you shoot, an hour or two of instruction can help you tune up for opening day.
"The most common mistakes that a dove hunter makes is in his or her basic form," said Matthew Pitman of White Oak Plantation in Tuskegee, Alabama, a Level Two instructor for the National Sporting Clays Association. "We often see hunters bring their heads down to their guns instead of bringing the guns to their faces. Another common mistake happens when hunters try to aim instead of point the gun.
"Often a hunter will try and shoot too quick because he believes that if he doesn't take a shot as soon as he sees the bird he'll be less likely to take a bird because he's let that the bird get further away from him. However, if a hunter assumes the proper shooting form, he'll often bag more birds by shooting slower rather than by shooting faster."
After you know that you can shoot accurately and with the proper form, spend one or two days on the sporting-clays range sharpening up your shooting skills before you head out to the dove field. If you don't, you'll have less chance of success hunting doves than a major-league batter who goes to bat in the season opener without practicing first will.