For the devoted wingshooting hunter, spring and summer are filled with clay target shooting. Doves represent the first real hunting opportunity of the fall. Satisfying as a smoked clay target can be, it’s never a 100 percent substitute for real feathers on real birds that can make erratic, evasive maneuvers—and result in terrific table fare. That’s why the traditional early September opening of dove season is such a big deal.
Except for turkey hunting—which is a whole different shotgunning ballgame—you likely have been away from the hunting field since the spring goose seasons ended. Are you ready to enjoy opening day?
Here are some things to put on your checklist to enjoy the opener to its fullest.
If you’ve done your homework and lined up a good field, you’ll be doing a lot of shooting on opening day. The new ShockEater Recoil Pad incorporates Nano-Poly Technology resulting in a wearable pad weighing only 1.4 ounces and just 8mm thick. It’s so thin, it doesn’t significantly affect length of pull, and it’s so flexible you’ll hardly know it’s there. The ShockEater is built to fit in the pad pocket on a variety of shooting vests. It’s one of those you-have-to-try-it-to-believe-it products because it’s so thin, you won’t think it could possibly curb felt recoil, yet it flat-out works!
The best dove hunting happens before the season’s first frost. In northern climes, as soon as those temps dip below 40 for one night, the mourning doves hightail it. Opening day is usually hot and sticky anywhere you hunt doves, and that means mosquitoes. Make sure you have a ThermaCELL device and an ample supply of butane cartridges and repellent pads. When you set up in a fencerow along a feeding field or next to a watering hole, fire up the ThermaCELL next to your hide and you’ll have a 15-foot zone of protection from mosquitoes and other flying insects in 10 minutes.
More shells are fired at doves in the United States than at any other feathered species. Even experienced dove shooters seldom achieve success much above 50 percent. If you take a limit of doves (12 to 15 birds in most places) with a box of shells, consider yourself a pro! Ammo companies love doves and dove hunters. Pick the lightest loads you can find to minimize recoil. Sub-gauges are excellent choices. If you’re hunting public land you’ll need non-toxic loads, so go with steel #7s for effectiveness and economy.
HiViz CompSight Bead
Next to not stopping your swing, the most prevalent cause of missing is looking at the shotgun barrel or bead. Believe it or not, having the correct bead on your shotgun plays an important role. While you’re not focusing on the bead, shooting coaches will tell you it’s an important reference point in your peripheral vision. Your ability to see the bead without focusing on it relies on it standing out in all conditions. That gives the HiViz CompSight the winning edge. It comes with eight interchangeable light pipes in four colors and three bead sizes. Experimenting at the range will reveal which you “see” best in varying light conditions, and you can use that knowledge to increase your percentages in the dove field.
Another shotgunning season about to begin in many places is the early Canada goose hunt. Few places are buggier than a layout blind in a fresh-cut crop field on a warm, muggy morning. Your retriever deserves to hunt in comfort, so put up a ThermaCELL just outside his doggy blind! He’ll thank you by sitting still and quiet when the geese come in.
Image courtesy Bill Miller