In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the essential aspects of successful dove hunting, from selecting the right gear to optimizing your shooting techniques. Whether you're a seasoned hunter or a newcomer gearing up for your first dove hunt, our in-depth analysis of equipment, strategies, and expert insights will ensure you're well-prepared for a rewarding and fruitful experience.
Selecting the Right Shotgun for Dove Hunting
When it comes to dove hunting, rest assured that any gauge and gun type can effectively bring down doves, whether your preference lies in a pump-action, semi-automatic, or double-barrel shotgun. Doves are relatively easy to bring down, making it a fantastic entry point for beginners and a fun experience for seasoned hunters. If you opt for a semi-automatic shotgun, there's one crucial step to remember: ensure your gun is clean and functional by doing a practice round of skeet before taking it on a hunt. A well-maintained gun can make all the difference in your hunting success, ensuring it cycles the shells smoothly after each shot.
Canine Companions: Enhancing Your Hunt with Dogs
Bringing a dog along for the hunt can enhance the experience, but safety remains a top priority. If you're accompanied by a canine companion, choose a safe environment with ample water and cool shade. Be vigilant about the shooters around you, especially if there are new participants. It's essential to communicate clearly with everyone, ensuring they understand not to take shots at low-flying birds. When in doubt, consider designating one person to control the dog while another shoots, ensuring a safe hunting environment for all.
Optimal Gun Chokes and Cartridge Recommendations
Opt for shotgun chokes ranging between skeet and modified chokes, such as improved cylinder or light modified. If your firearm was previously set up for duck season with a tight choke, replace it with a less restrictive one for dove hunting. We recommend opting for the improved cylinder choke if available.
When it comes to shot size, the tried-and-true choice is number 8 shot. This shot size effectively takes down birds at various ranges and offers a reliable shot pattern (circle of pellets) up to approximately 50 yards. In terms of load, one ounce or one and an eighth ounce is ideal. Dove hunting doesn't demand specialized ammunition; their relatively small size makes them easier targets compared to larger birds like geese.
Strategies for Effective Decoy Use
While not essential, decoys can be beneficial during dove hunting. A small number of decoys can attract doves and improve your chances of a successful hunt. If you're opting for just one, consider a spinning wing decoy. For best results, elevate it as high as possible using an 8-9 foot pole instead of the 3 foot pole that is typically included. This increased height of the spinning wing decoy improves its visibility and lures doves in with greater success.
Strategic Field Positioning: Maximizing Dove Hunting Success
Selecting the right position on the field significantly impacts your hunting success. Position yourself along powerlines, fencelines, or at the corner where two fence lines meet. These are typical flight paths for doves. Gaps in trees or areas with varying tree altitudes are also promising spots. If you're hunting with less experienced individuals, offer them prime positions along the flight path, while you challenge yourself with shots at birds leaving the field at higher altitudes.
Preparing Your Mind for Optimal Shooting Technique
Maintaining proper shooting form is essential for accurate and successful dove hunting. Since hunters often sit on buckets or similar setups, consider investing in a dove seat with a rotating feature to allow for smoother movement. Focus on your shoulders' movement rather than relying solely on your hands and arms to maneuver the gun. A smooth and comfortable gun mount is critical for accuracy, so take your time to position the gun properly on your shoulder.
When getting ready to shoot, choose one specific bird and focus on a specific part of the target, such as the eye or head. Your subconscious will instinctively adjust the lead based on this focus point. Avoid measuring the lead or becoming aware of the barrel; instead, match the bird's speed and take the shot.
Utilizing ShotKam Technology
If you're equipped with a ShotKam video camera on your gun, proper preparation is key. Fully charge the ShotKam overnight and consider bringing an external battery pack if you plan to watch videos through WiFi throughout the day (see article here). Calibrate the red circle dot or crosshair within ShotKam videos through the app, ensuring accurate shot analysis.
Once in the field, a quick click turns the ShotKam into Normal Shooting Mode, ready for action with a green light at the back. To capture videos, create a vibration by bumping your gun's stock with your hand. The blue LED confirms successful recording, allowing continuous shooting as it blinks.
If you do not want to have to waken it before shooting, the camera's Sleep Mode can be disabled through the mobile app settings. By tapping on "Wake-Up Sensitivity" and selecting "Sleep Mode Disabled," your ShotKam remains in constant readiness to record videos. However, be aware that this option has its trade-offs. With a ShotKam Gen 4, it will last approximately 2.5 hours, while a Gen 3 will provide around 1 hour of recording time. If you choose this setting, remember to turn off the ShotKam during slower periods or use an external battery pack for recharging.
Three Additional Tips
1. After shooting a dove, keep an eye on its descent and mark a reference point in line with where it fell to aid in retrieval.
2. Clean the doves and keep them on ice before leaving the field to ensure their quality.
3. For ShotKam devices that have been in use for a few years, an at-home battery test is available to assess its condition (see article here).
Dove hunting is not only about the thrill of the hunt but also about camaraderie and sharing the experience with friends and family. By following these tips and making safety a priority, you're well on your way to a successful and memorable dove hunting adventure.