Now that the dove opener has come and gone, there’s a good chance that your next dove hunt will be a solo mission. Use these six tips to shoot your limit even after all of your buddies have called it quits.
1. Stay Mobile – Excluding your shotgun, if it can’t fit in a bucket seat, you don’t need it. A solo hunter needs to pack light and be ready to move right away if birds are working another spot more consistently.
2. Follow the Farmer – If you hunt alone, you’re probably not hunting a field that was cultivated specifically to attract doves. Instead, let the local farmers create a milk run of new feeding fields for you. Track where they’re harvesting row crops (corn especially in the Midwest, where I live). If you spot doves on power lines or around gravel drives nearby, watch to see how they access the field. Hunt whichever spot is hottest, and if a field goes cold, see tip No. 1.
3. See Where they Light – Pay less attention to where doves feed in the field. They’re landing areas can be vast. Instead, scout out the dead trees, power lines, agricultural buildings and other places where doves light to check a field before flying down. That “X” is much smaller and easier to hunt alone.
4. Work the Roost – Some folks say not to hunt a roost, else you’ll send the birds packing to another area. Maybe so, but few hunts can be better for a one-gun outing. Besides, in heavily hunted areas, doves seem to vanish pretty quickly anyway, so if you’re alone, shoot the roost while the opportunity is there.
5. Find Water and Gravel – Water and gravel sources are ideal places for the solo dove hunter because they bring the doves to the gun. In arid regions, the shooting can be intense. My experience in the Midwest is that food sources and roosts produce better action, but water and gravel can attract birds during the hottest part of the day.
6. Walk ’em Up – I’ve never shot a limit this way, but I’ve killed enough for a meal by walking up and flushing singles and pairs of doves lighting around pasture fields, fencerows or on power lines near food sources. Use cover or the terrain to conceal your approach within range, then step into the open to flush the birds.