Its happened a couple of times….you spend the week before opening day gathering your dove hunting tools, meticulously filtering through the hunting closet, garage, shells, camo and decoys…making sure that everything under your control is perfect for opening day. You load it, you make the drive, you set your decoys in the perfect spot and take cover! Ahhhh, finally, the reward for all of the work! Relax and get ready for the big moment….Thats when you, or maybe your hunting partner, maybe your wife…maybe even your wife named Robin speaks up and says…”I forgot my hunting license.” Here’s a little checklist that I go through before hunting doves that can help head off a few minor headache’s, with some hopefully helpful tips under lined along the way.
*License….Check your regulations, your state more than likely requires a migratory bird stamp and H.I.P. certification as well as a standard hunting license.
*Shells…Don’t buy trash. The average dove hunter kills 3 doves for every box of 25 shells that he/she shoots. We need all of the help that we can get. Look for shot shells with at least one ounce of powder. 1 and 1/8th is even better. Shot size should be (in my humble opinion) 8’s or 9’s. Quality shells will cost you a couple more bucks per box, but when you think about why you are going in the first place, they are worth it.
*Batteries…I always try to get to the dove field in the dark to set up decoys. A headlight or small flashlight that easily tucks away into a vest pocket is essential to me. I also put fresh batteries in the Mojo doves (motion decoys) every year. If you don’t own a Mojo, go get one. Better yet, go get two. They work! The people at Mojo don’t pay me to say that…they simply work! More Mojo in a minute.
*Choke Tubes…keep them handy in the field. Low floating water balloons in the morning get educated very quickly. By afternoon, those balloons have F-16 engines and Apollo “to the moon” height. Or maybe your perfect setup is 10 yards further from the field entrance that the birds prefer. I always start with improved cylinder, and then adjust to the birds if needed.
*Camo…they see you! They have a height advantage. Camo up as much as you can stand in September heat. No matter what your momma said about you, these guys DON’T want to see your shining face. Camo up, try to hunt in the shade with your back to the sun, and use brush or trees to break up your outline. They fly through here regularly and notice subtle differences. Especially shiny ones.
*Cooler…water in the field is usually essential, keeping your dove breasts cool is too.
*Stool or bucket to sit on… They make all kinds of fancy hunting stools and buckets. I once paid (out of desperation) $25 for a five gallon bucket with a rotating seat lid on it. Highway robbery, but I was taking a kid turkey hunting down on the Texas/Mexican border. You just pay em, smile and move on in that country. Heres a tip. I like a taller stool. The added height makes it easier to get up, get up quickly, and get into shooting position with less noticeable motion. I found a neat little black fold away stool at Wal-Mart a few years back for $9 and it works great.
*Toilet Paper…Seldom needed, greatly appreciated when it is!
*Game Shears…for clipping wings/Ziploc Bags…for storing birds/Permanent marker pen…for clearly marking bags with your name. Texas Wardens are writing folks up when they come across a pile of birds that exceed one hunter’s limit. Keep your birds separate from others.
TIP: I always keep a box of quality rubber gloves in my truck for cleaning fish and game. Water is usually scarce in the field and these keep your hands clean while field dressing.
*TIP…visit you local hardware store and pick up a roofers magnet. I call em a magnet on a stick. Roofers drag the lawn for wayward nails after a roofing project. These are great for picking up spent shotgun hulls. Pick em up! It will get you invited back sometime, and it’s just the right thing to do.
*Dog Supplies…water, water, water…and a bowl. Your retriever is going to get hot. I carry a few first aid items like super glue and EMT gel to treat cuts from fences etc…
*Decoys…Like I said earlier, Mojo motion decoys are unreal! I’ve on multiple occasions seen doves try to land on top of them! I incorporate my motion decoys with motionless clip on’s. TIP: while your at the hardware store, buy a single stick of rebar. It can easily be bent into a U shape. Shove the ends into the ground and clip your motionless clip on decoys on top making them more visible to the international bird of peace. I like to place a couple of Mojo motion decoys within 8-10 yards from the rebar setup.
Enjoy your dove season, dove kabob’s for dinner and most importantly, time in the field with your family. It’s precious!
August 1, 2014