Dove Hunting 101

Strategy 1: Find the Hot Spot Don't waste time sitting in spots where doves aren't flying. They are creatures of habit, so a little scouting goes a long way in patterning doves. Birds frequently navigate along tree lines and field edges as well as across the middle of fields, where terrain features help them navigate. Doves like to be able to see, and feel protected at the same time. Once you've identified their "flyways," look for spots that satisfy their need for security, and your need to get off a shot. Key on gaps in a tree line (1), a saddle on a hill, converging crop fields, a dead tree (2), windrows (3) and even a high spot (4), such as a lone dirt mound in a field.
Strategy 2: Hunt Low in the Wind When sustained winds from a storm front roll in, doves typically move out. But barring a tropical storm, nor-easter or twister, winds will more often than not simply cause doves to adjust where they will roost. Like turkeys, doves tend to roost in sheltered areas where they can avoid stiff breezes, such as in trees along the leeward side of a hill (1) or in a creek bottom (2). When they do get up to fly, they will stick tight to tree lines or shelterbelts, preferring to fly along the side that protects them from the harshest gales. Set up along these low, out-of-the-wind spots, and you'll be sitting pretty when the birds take to the air.
Strategy 3: Dove Drives While a solo hunter can walk birds up for the occasional jump shot on days when they otherwise refuse to fly, this is a tactic best employed with three or four hunters. Set up several posters in key spots around the field. A single gunner (1) can kick the birds up. Doves require grit to grind up and digest their food, and as such will spend near-flightless days along sandy trail edges (2) and between the rows of low crops, such as soybeans and peanuts (3). The driver can work back and forth across a field with the wind or he can walk the shady side of tree lines, where midday birds might be found roosting.
Strategy 4: Decoy a Water Hole On afternoons when the birds are flying in random patterns, scatter decoys along a fencerow or on bare limbs near a small watering hole with a sandy bank. The combination gives doves a spot to find both grit and water, which they will seek an hour or two before dusk. Use at least a dozen decoys in various positions to mimic a roosting flock. Place the dekes where they can be spotted by approaching birds: one or two on a high limb, a few at the water's edge. Doves will want to pause on a bare limb to check out the scene before descending. Set up where you can take a shot just before a bird lights on the limb.

Dove season is here! These tactics are guaranteed to provide better shooting.