Nature

Get Ready for Your Best Dove Season Ever in the Texas Hill Country

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Dove season is around the corner, which means it’s time to prepare. It’s a given that these birds are tasty and plentiful, but hunting them is also great fun. Whether you’re a solo hunter, landowner, have a hunting lease with buddies, or it’s a family affair, the appeal of dove hunting is hard to beat.

A good session in the field during dove season will offer nonstop action. Wing-shooting provides enjoyment regardless of the game, because of the increased hand-eye coordination required. Admittedly, shooting doves can prove to be more difficult than larger birds such as ducks or grouse. It’s essential to get yourself in shooting shape before the season starts.

Get Ready for Your Best Dove Season Ever in the Texas Hill Country

Photo: @jdlee444 via Twenty20

Using proper gun mounting form when shooting will increase your success on opening day and throughout the season. While it might not be common knowledge, most hunters’ form gets better as the season progresses. This mid-late season form is much like an athlete playing a sport. A hunter’s shooting will improve throughout the season because he’s shooting more. Why not use the time now before the season starts to sight in your guns and knock the rust off your shot? This practice will ensure a more successful opening day, along with a more enjoyable season.

Another hot tip for hunters as they prepare for opening day is to practice shooting with a lower caliber gun. For example, if you normally hunt with a 12-gauge, consider dropping down to a 16 or 20-gauge as you practice. The logic behind training with a lower caliber gun is simple. In shooting clay targets, less weight means you can get in more repetitions with good form. Think about it like weightlifting—proper form with lightweight, as you’re getting back into the swing, will allow you to move heavier weight more efficiently when the time is right. The same concept applies to training with your gun of choice, especially as wing-shooting is so dependent on rhythm and timing.

Get Ready for Your Best Dove Season Ever in the Texas Hill Country

Photo: envato elements

Knowing what gun you’re going to use is vital to having a successful opening day and season. There are several philosophies on choosing the ultimate dove hunting gun. It really comes down to what you feel comfortable and confident with shooting. 12-gauge, 16-gauge and 20-gauge are all good options. As dove hunting can be a high-volume affair, a heavier gun will keep you steady as you swing into your shot and disperse more recoil compared to a lighter gun. Guns.com has a great selection that will fit your needs!

Pump and semi-automatics are preferred for dove hunting, since the birds move fast, and you may have time to get multiple shots if you miss. You need a gun that will meet the demands. While some guns are specifically outfitted for dove, a standard wing-shooter is also effective. Again, it’s all about what you’re comfortable with. Many Texas hunters prefer something like this Browning Semi-Automatic 16-Gauge.

Get Ready for Your Best Dove Season Ever in the Texas Hill Country

Photo: envato elements

Choice of ammo is important as well. In the field on opening day, it’s better to be over-prepared than underprepared. With ammo, always take more than you think you’ll need. It would be a shame to have birds flying around you but miss your bag limit because you ran out of ammo.

Smaller shot sizes are best when hunting doves. As with a gun, find a smaller shot size that you’re comfortable with. Sizes 7.5-9.0 will get the job done. As dove are smaller birds, they require less of a punch to take down. Smaller shot sizes have more pellets per charge, which will give you a higher probability of hitting a bird. My favorite is the Federal 7.5 Steel Shot. With ammo, be sure to check your state and zone regulations as lead shot may not be allowed depending on where you hunt.

Get Ready for Your Best Dove Season Ever in the Texas Hill Country

Photo: envato elements

As you’re gathering supplies for a successful hunt and getting your eye honed in, take the time to nail down the logistics of your hunt. Check and double-check your state and zone bag limits and requirements. Whether you’re leasing or hunting on public land, check-in with the site to make sure there have been no changes. In the wake of COVID-19, landowners are adjusting how hunts are allowed to happen per state requirements and personal preferences.

If you’ve done all this, a successful hunt is on the horizon. When you limit out, don’t forget to invite your neighbors over for some tasty dove wraps!