EARLY SEASON DOVE STRATEGIES

Dove Hunting Decoy

So far the early season start for doves has been rather slow for the most part. Last year was gangbusters right from opening weekend and the 2011 start has been tougher than expected. Being migratory, these birds can be literally "here today and gone tomorrow" and the season can ebb and flow according to temperature changes throughout the state. Decoying doves is gaining a ton of popularity in Minnesota although it has been a staple down in the southern United States for decades. Here are some thoughts on decoying doves and some other strategies to help increase your odds in bagging these feisty birds.

1.) WHEN TO DECOY AND NOT TO DECOY

Hunters often think that decoys are the magic potion to successful hunting. They are not magical but rather very helpful when you are in an area that actually has doves working the field or foodsource. Placing a motorized decoy in a bare field or into an area with little or no activity doesn't increase the odds much..you still need birds in the area for the decoy to work. My favorite decoy startegy is to employ a couple of hunters who are the "birddogs" that do the walking and actually jump birds on crop edges, gravel pits or water sources while a lone third hunter is set up with a couple of motorized decoys. The walkers tend to kick up birds in the surrounding area which sends birds to the decoy and yet the walkers can shoot their of birds the old fashioned way. This is a good 1-2 punch that works well on large tracts of land. The walkers shoot their birds and the decoy guy gets in on the action and nobody is targeting the same doves.

2.) PLACES TO HUNT

I have spent a good amount of road miles lately trying to find suitable fields to hunt and have come up pretty short. The problem is that the price of corn and beans are so high that crops such as wheat, oats, sunflowers and other grains are few and far between here in the central part of Minnesota. I put a lot of miles on with very little success in locating the proper fields to hunt. Because of the lack of proper fields to hunt my success has been a bird here and there with no concentrations. It has been rather frustrating. I am planning on trying some areas in the far western part of the state to have a better chance at finding the grain fields I need for success.

3.) ELEVATE THAT DECOY

Whenever I am setting up a motorized decoy I always look for a chance to elevate the height of the decoy itself. The standard poles that come with the kits are only a couple of feet in height and I have found success by using a fencepost or metal fence support to raise the height. By lashing the factory post to an existing fencepost you can gain another 3 to 4 feet of height. Now that decoy can be see hundred of yards away with some extra height. Some very creative hunters often fashion their own height extensions using pvc pipe or electrical conduit to gain that height advantage. I have even seen some really creative setups by using pvc pipe to make an artificial "tree" with decoys connected to the branches. Using this artificial tree setup along with a heightened motorized decoy in tandem can be very deadly at this time of the year.

4.) PERSMISSION

What I really love about dove hunting at this time of the season is the ease of "getting on" property. The duck and pheasant seasons haven't kicked in yet and most landowners and farmers are very approachable. You wouldn't believe the landowners that aren't even aware there is a dove season ! The last two years I have never been refused to hunt doves by knocking on doors and seeking permission.

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