The first bird hunting season is opening shortly and many Minnesotans will be chasing doves as we look forward to the kick- off of the 2016 hunting seasons. Dove hunting has grown substantially in popularity the last few years and many hunters take to the field early to sharpen their shooting eye. Hunting doves take lots of scouting and preparation to be successful. Here are some thoughts as we head into the Fall.
Scouting is absolutely paramount for success when chasing doves. This Fall with all the rain and heat has increased the harvest schedule for farmers and many fields are already tilled and turned over. The price of corn and soybeans the last few years have taken precedent over grains and this means the grain fields are few and far between. If you hit the road and knock on some doors, you’ll be able to find those fields through some extra legwork. Because of crop rotation practices, farmers tend to rotate their crops year to year and just because there was a grain field last year doesn’t mean it is still there. Scouting is key.
Because of the heavy rains of the last few months, water sources are everywhere. In an Autumn with very little rain, the doves can be concentrated on spots when water is hard to find. This year they have lots of options. I have found water ources adjacent to grain fields or adjacent to gravel roads have the best chance of providing good dove opportunities. Doves head to water sources early in the morning and then again later in the day.
If you are having trouble finding grain fields, walking the edges of standing corn can be productive. Doves love to loaf in the standing corn and seek shade of the lower stalks. They can be flushed easily by walking along the corn edges. The flush is often frantic as they burst into the sky presenting a very challenging shot. The best corn fields are one’s which feature an open field next to them such as an alfalfa field or soybean field making it easier to retrieve the downed birds.
Dove hunting is becoming the fastest growing shooting sport in the Midwest and because of the tremendous population, there are plenty of opportunities. Get them before the cold winds of October approach as many doves will leave the state at the first sign of cold temperatures.