Dove season is the official opening of hunting season in Texas, its the first time many hunters dust off their shotguns and get back into the field after a long hot summer. On average 350,000+ hunters take five million birds in Texas alone, that’s almost 30 percent of the birds killed in the U.S. Opening weekend, Labor Day weekend is more than just a hunt, its tradition, and a social event in Texas. For those just starting this tradition or even the most seasoned hunters here are a few helpful hints to get your daily limits.
Scout your location doves follow landmarks like power lines, tree lines, even roads to navigate from their roost to the fields. Look for fields with sunflowers, milo or seed bearing plants for them to feed. Water sources are excellent ponds, or man made tanks are especially active for the evening hunt. Wear camouflage, try to find a small tree or bush that allows you to see but breaks up the hunters outline, and stay still they detect motion very well. Multiple hunters spread out over a field keep the dove moving. Remember this is a social hunt, call out the birds to other hunters when you spot them.
Decoys do work, do not write them off. From the simplistic homemade cardboard cutouts tothe motion “mojo” decoys they all will help improve your chances. I’ve witnessed birds change course and head to a good decoy setup many a time. A good mix of motionless decoys with one or two mojo decoys seems to work best for us. Use the plastic full bodied decoys in a dead tree if available, while putting the mojo decoys where you want the birds to land. I can not recommend the mojo decoys enough they are worth their weight in gold especially when the birds flyways are just off your property.
Shotgun shells and choke
For migratory game birds your shotgun can only hold three total shells, if yours hold more you must plug it. Do not skimp on the ammo get the good heavy, high velocity loads dove are fast small moving targets. Early in the season I usually start with #8 shot, then later in the season when they have been educated I switch to 7.5 shot. The typical max range for most people is 40 yards if you have a shotgun with removable or adjustable chokes use improved for a nice wide pattern, dove are fragile just a few hits will take them down.
Bring a comfortable chair, get in you concealed spot and stay still. When the birds start to fly in pick one bird out at a time once that bird is down move to the next target, they fly in flocks to confuse predators that includes you. After your hunt pick up your spent shells, not only do they look trashy cattle love the smell and will eat them costing the ranchers a hefty vet bill or worse. After the hunt grab a cold beverage, gather with your friends, fire up the grill, prepare them the traditional Texas way dove breast wrapped in bacon with a slice of jalapeno.