In the Wild with Greg Wagner

Dabbling with Dove Decoys by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
August 31, 2009, 11:40 am
Filed under: Hunting | Tags: ,

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I like to dabble with the dove decoys.  That’s really all I do, it seems. Bagging some for the charcoal grill during Nebraska’s popular dove hunting season is, well, just a bonus actually. Normally, I run out of shells before even getting close to reaching my daily bag limit during the season. I get ‘em close enough for shots, but connecting and downing one is a whole different matter with me.  

 So, I feel credible to at least offer you some tips to draw the birds within shooting range using decoys. The shooting thing is up to the shotgunning experts.   

 That said, here we go. Okay, so you know your location habitat-wise – you’ve got doves.  You pretty much know the patterns the birds are flying. You’ve developed a game plan for safety with your hunting partners. But you just can’t quite get those darned doves close enough for shots, hmm.  

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 Decoys, have any? Use any? You should. Like hunting with decoys for any game, dove decoys serve as attractants and divert the attention of the birds away from you! Let me tell you that dove decoys, even a couple of them, placed near your shooting spot can get birds to fly at close range. What kind of dove decoys work best? I have used them all with success – commercially bought shells & full bodies, robo-decoys, Dick Turpin-crafted wooden ones and I’ve even successfully used silhouettes made from cardboard, believe it or not.      

 From Keith Sutton of Alexander, Arkansas, one of the top outdoor writers and veteran dove hunters in the nation, I have learned that it is important to place several decoys in several key places near your hunting spot. First, look for an area of open or bare ground where the birds like to eat and put several decoys there. Second, set several decoys along the edge of a watering hole that the doves are frequenting. Third, several decoys also should be placed on the top strand of a nearby fence about a foot apart. And finally, several tree decoys should also be put up as high as possible back from the tips of limber branches. Sutton says don’t make the common mistake of not facing all of your decoys into the wind as doves take off and land into the wind.

 Let’s cover a little bit on safety; it should not be overlooked when putting out dove decoys. Dove hunters are strongly advised to wear a blaze orange cap for safety purposes in order to be seen by other hunters in the field when doing that.         

 Nebraska’s dove hunting seasons begins on Tuesday, September 1 and runs through October 30. The daily bag limit on doves is 15 and the possession limit is 30. Doves may only be shot while in flight. Hunters are reminded to not forget their 2009 Nebraska hunting permit, habitat stamp, new H.I.P. number and a plug in their shotgun – restricting it to holding no more than three shells. If hunters shoot banded doves, they need to report information on those banded birds.

 Have a great dove hunt, and oh yeah, don’t forget to pack the decoys!


2 Comments so far
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Greg’s advice on the dove decoys is RIGHT ON! My kids and I did a quick dove hunt last night and the decoys pulled in birds like they were on a string! I watched one high-flying dove drop like a stone right in between two of our decoys.

My shooting was not too bad last night and a large reason for that is the decoys pulled the birds in where we could have some “makable” shots on birds flying into the wind. The birds sailing with that breeze last night were darned near impossible to hit. My son did not shoot quite as well as I did, but we will not talk about that. Ha.

Comment by Daryl Bauer

Glad you guys had a great hunt, Daryl. Decoys truly work on doves, you know that! Thanks for taking the kids out!

“Wags” — Greg Wagner

Comment by Daryl Bauer

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