Author’s note: Marty Fischer, the host of TNT Outdoor Explosion on the Pursuit Channel, a professional wingshooter, a National Sporting Clays Association Level III shooting instructor, and a longtime Mossy Oak Pro Staff member, has designed more than 150 sporting clay facilities. Here are his tips for taking more doves.
I have been on dove hunts where hunters show up in shorts, white socks, and a white T-shirt. I don’t go dove hunting, though, without wearing a full suit of Mossy Oak camouflage. I want to make sure I blend in to my surroundings, rather than standing out like a sore thumb. I shouldn’t be moving until I am ready to take the shot, but if I do, I want that movement to be disguised by the Mossy Oak camouflage I’m wearing. Remember, doves have very good eyesight. When they spot something unnatural in the place where they feed, travel, or water, they’ll veer away from it. During the early season, I almost always will wear Mossy Oak Obsession, because there is a lot of green in the part of Georgia where I hunt. For early dove season in the South, I don’t believe there is a better pattern.
If I’m hunting later in the season, hunting in a partially-cut corn field, or hunting in an area where the foliage is really brown, I wear Mossy Oak Break-Up or Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity. Another pattern that works extremely well when you’re hunting with a lot of dead grass and brown foliage is Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades, which we normally consider a waterfowl pattern. However, I have found it is also a productive late-season camouflage pattern for dove hunting. Often times you’ll be hunting in tall grass around the edges of an agricultural field, and that’s where the Blade pattern will make you invisible. Another pattern that works well around the edge of an agricultural field is Mossy Oak Duck Blind. For me, I pick and chose my camouflage once I know where I will be hunting.
Choosing the right gun for the right person
Most often, when a hunter is picking out a shotgun for a lady or for a youngster, he’ll purchase a .410 gauge shotgun. In my opinion, the .410 is a gauge that should only be shot by experts because it has a very long shot-strain and a very narrow pattern. If you purchase a .410 shotgun for a youngster or a lady, you have chosen a gun that gives them the least opportunity for success in a dove field or with any other form of wingshooting. The only advantage for a lady or a youngster is that the .410 has very little recoil. The .410 is so difficult to master that even most veteran hunters have difficulty shooting a .410 with competency. Instead, for new shooters, I recommend a 20 gauge or a 28 gauge. Then I’ll have the new dove hunter shoot the lightest load he or she can buy. I recommend a 3/4-ounce load in a 20 or a 28 gauge shell. These guns are comfortable and soft-shooting, and the recoil is not much more than the recoil from a .410.
Another difference is the weight of the gun. Most hunters will buy a single-shot .410 for new shooters. However, today many gunsmiths offer featherweight or lightweight 20 gauges and 28 gauges. Having said this, the biggest problem that I see with most 20 and 28 gauge shotguns is that the comb (the top of the stock) can be too low for shooters to get a proper mount. If you watch a youngster or a lady while he or she puts the stock to his or her shoulder, if the stock is not above the crown of the shoulder, his or her head will roll over the top of the stock pretty far. When the head rolls this way, the shooter can’t look down the gun with the dominant eye. To sight properly, he or she must lift his or her cheek off the stock. Lifting the head up will magnify the recoil from the gun significantly because the gun is not locked in to the cheek and the shoulder.
There is a product, the Beartooth Stock Comb Raising Kit, which is a neoprene pad with a sleeve. You can use this kit to elevate the height of the shotgun’s comb to enable the shooter to keep his head erect like it’s supposed to be, allowing accurate shooting. This Beartooth Comb Raising Kit is a magical piece of equipment that solves a major problem for new wingshooters. I use this piece of equipment when I’m teaching at wingshooting schools and realize that my new shooters are having difficult times getting their cheeks properly aligned so that their eyes look straight down the barrel. If the shooter can look straight down the barrel and see the bead of the gun without moving his head, then the gun starts shooting where the person is looking, which makes shooting a shotgun accurately much easier.
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Image courtesy John E. Philips