Dove hunters are a traditional bunch, which is a good thing. At the same time, tradition is difficult to break, should a case for change ever arise.
Take decoys, for instance. Waterfowlers consider them as vital a part of the process as their shotgun or retriever. More and more these days, turkey hunters, too, can seldom be found farther than a few yards from a plastic hen. Yet despite their effectiveness–particularly for a species as social as the mourning dove–many dove hunters never give decoys a second thought.
“The simple fact is that most hunters don’t know about decoying doves. They’re just not familiar with it. I hunted doves for years without decoys, but once I discovered how effective they can be–well, it’s just amazing,” says Chris Paradise, senior vice-president of sales and marketing for O.F. Mossberg & Sons. “Hunting doves with decoys is just like calling waterfowl. It can be that effective.”
According to Paradise, folks who use dove decoys often use them incorrectly. How can you misuse something like a decoy? You hide it.
GET SOME AIR UNDER THEM
“Doves have feather patterns and an overall coloration that doesn’t promote good visibility. They’re very well camouflaged. If you’ve ever walked a cut field jump-shooting doves, you know you can often walk right up on them without seeing them,” says Paradise. “Many hunters tuck their decoys in around their blinds or put them on the ground.”
Anywhere the birds are likely to come within eyeshot of the decoys is a potential place to set up. However, there is one trick to keep in mind for using dove decoys effectively.
“The silhouette of the decoy is the key. Get them off the ground. Use a dove wire (see sidebar). Some decoys have eyelets on their backs. Guys attach these to fishing outfits and literally cast their decoys up into branches of dead trees and over out-of-service telephone lines,” says Paradise. “Put the rod down, grab a seat, and you’re in business. It works even better if you have a buddy moving that decoy like it’s a dove that’s just landed. It’s deadly.”
For more regional information, go to www.outdoorlife.com/regional
THE DOVE WIRE
In its most elemental form, the dove wire is little more than a stout cable stretched between two posts. Decoys are clipped, taped or otherwise secured to the wire, and the ensemble is erected. Finished? You might be, but not surprisingly, there are an infinite number of variations on this simple design.
Take Greg Potts’s dove wire. Several years ago Chris Paradise’s uncle created a portable and compact version. The stand Greg arrived at consists of two 10-foot uprights made of 1/2-inch electrical conduit. Ninety-degree elbows at the top of each connect an approximately 18-foot span, which is in reality two 9-foot pieces of conduit joined by a 1/2-inch connector. The uprights themselves slide into two 2-foot lengths of 3/4-inch conduit, which are angle-cut and pounded into the ground to provide a stable base for the posts and the wire. Decoys are clipped to the 18-foot span. For additional details, specifications and pricing, contact Greg Potts at 216-292-5943.–M.D.J.