The Joys of Dove Hunting

“Mark, it’s raining hard outside,” my wife, Lisa, said. “Are you still going dove hunting?”

“Yes,” I responded. “I’ve got rain gear. Anyway, it might stop raining, and there’s no lightning.”

“Well, enjoy yourself,” she said, “though I can’t possibly see how.”

As I drove to my hunting spot through steady showers, I thought about my wife’s comment. To someone who has never hunted doves, sitting outside in the rain for several hours probably seems silly. But to dove hunters, it makes perfect sense. I could think of a lot of rewards for taking part in dove season, regardless of the weather.

Change of Seasons

Dove season opens with summer on the wane. Though still dishing out heat and drought, summer starts to lose its grip in early September. Early fall arrives with cool, north breezes. For a dove hunter, sitting on a bucket, tucked in a fencerow overgrown with sassafras and sumac, those first cool breezes are a welcome harbinger of more fall days to come.

The cooler air and shorter days also prompt the sumac and sassafras to sport hues of crimson and orange. Fields take on more color from ironweeds, goldenrods and asters.

If dove action is slow, it’s fun to watch monarch butterflies sipping nectar from fall flowers, The migrating butterflies seem in no hurry, yet on their way to overwinter in central Mexico they may travel up to 2000 miles.

Migrating nighthawks may wing overhead in loose flocks numbering more than a hundred. Below your feet, untold numbers of grasshoppers and crickets chirp and trill. Witnessing these seasonal events makes dove hunting a pleasure, regardless of whether you bag any birds.

Wing-Shooting Challenge

Dove hunting is made to order for those who enjoy wing shooting. It provides fast action and lots of challenge. A dove with a stiff wind at its tail and a desire to leave the vicinity represents an extremely elusive target.

Part of the pleasure of dove hunting comes from getting ready for such shots through pre-season clay-target shooting. Friends often gather to shoot clay birds at skeet or sporting clay ranges or in back pastures.

No matter how much you practice, you’ll still shake your head over missed shots. A limit (12) of doves taken with a box and a half of shells represents good shooting for most hunters.

Gun-dog Training

In Missouri, most hunters who own gun dogs own them for hunting either waterfowl or quail. Dove season opens a full two months before these