By Montana Grant

Posted: August 20, 2023

Dove season is just around the corner. Veteran dove hunters appreciate this fast shooting and tasty game bird. In most states, doves are considered migratory birds and require a special stamp on your license. Check your local regulations before targeting these wonderful fast flyers.

Doves seem to congregate around freshly harvested corn, wheat, sunflower, and grainfields. The easy to eat grain fills their crops for their Fall southern migrations. Doves can be targeted when still hunting the edges of these fields or by locating a flyway where doves seem to navigate often.

Decoys and calling can bring doves into shotgun range. Making a whistle that sounds like the flying dove will encourage them to fly closer. Decoys along a power line, fence line, or attached to branches of trees will also invite doves to fly closer. Usually, 6-12 decoys are plenty. Use the pattern to make your own decoys or purchase some from your local Bob Wards sporting goods store.

Lighter gauge shotguns are perfect for shooting these birds. A 20 or 12 gauge will do the trick. Use 7 ½ -9 sized shot and a medium to full choke for positive results. The key to reaching a limit is to swing through the target.

Once the bird is down, mark it and immediately locate and retrieve the bird. This can be difficult in high grass or still standing crops. Dogs can be helpful but be aware of rattlesnakes, porcupines, and skunks, which can injure the retrievers.  These dangerous critters are also feasting on the mice that eat the grain or the grain that is in abundance.

When I hunt, I take plenty of water for me and my dog. These are carried in a bucket or hunting stool that the hunter can sit still on. Doves are not stupid, and camouflage is required for hunters. Find some cover along the edge of a field and sit still. A small cooling bag, with a frozen water bottle or ice pack is ideal for keeping the doves fresh.

Breast the doves, when cleaning them. Remove the skin and keep the meaty breasts intact. To cook them, try wrapping a strip of bacon around the breasts and smoke them. Use your favorite spice blend and enjoy. These smoked dove breasts are simply amazing.

Montana dove season is often short. Once frost sets in, doves fly south. We may only get a few weeks of decent hunting. Scout ahead of time and plan to hunt early in the season.

Love them doves!

Montana Grant

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