Jump to content

Recommended Posts

4 minutes ago, Big Tub said:

That second one is not going to have much meat!

 

Yeah, it's a young one, but none of them have too much meat anyway. 😅

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lol. 
I generally don’t go dove hunting but my 9year old daughter asked me to take her on her first dove hunt. So now I need to find a spot close to town. Just want her to have fun. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anymore, the majority that I see look more like this one!  Seems like starting about three or four years ago, the Eurasian population has exploded where we hunt.  By the time we have a limit of mourning and/or white wings, we generally each have twice that many collard doves!  One of my buddies described it as; "The best thing to happen to Arizona dove hunting in a long time!"  LOL   Makes for lots and lots of shooting fun!

 

dove.PNG

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another oldie from my files....

LAST SHOT

HEAT UP WITH DOVES

Copyright by Tony Mandile

 As I stopped along the dusty two-track, the truck radio blared out  Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” It was an obvious prophecy of the day to come when the weather forecaster followed with, “Well, today will be sunny and hot. The 6 a.m. temperature at Sky Harbor is currently 91 degrees, and the expected high will be 113." Already, the sun had started to peek over the eastern horizon with its orange glow.

My oldest son and hunting partner, Keith, sighed. "Hope the birds are plentiful and get up early so the sun doesn’t get a chance to bake our perhaps not-too-swift brains. This is madness, you know?"

I laughed. “Quit complaining. We’ve got lots of cold water. Now let’s get out there. The sooner we fill our limits, the quicker we can go eat breakfast.”

We uncased our shotguns, filled our vests with shells and walked off in different directions alongside the sunflower-covered field.  Keith disappeared into an irrigation ditch about 200 yards east of where we parked.

I walked to the west end of the field and settled into a small indentation in the edge of the five-foot-high plants.  The tall stalks surrounded me on three sides and provided good concealment.  I could feel the sweat caused by my short walk already trickling down my back, chest and forehead. I took my hat off, mopped the perspiration from my brow with my shirt sleeve, then crouched below the tops of the sunflower stalks.

Lees than two minutes passed before I heard Keith fire his 20-gauge. Another shot  immediately followed the first. I saw feathers gently fluttering toward the ground, but the bird had kicked in its afterburner and streaked toward the other side of the field.  Keith cut loose with his first tirade of the morning at the departing dove.  "Go ahead, you @#*#@.  Fly off with your heart shot out!"

I chuckled to myself, then  peered over the top of my natural blind in the direction of the salt-cedar grove along the Gila River. At least two dozen flying silhouettes dotted the sky and headed right toward me. A pair of low-flyers was now less than 50 yards away and would fly directly over me. At least I hoped they would.

 Clicking off the safety, I pointed the gun at the leader and promptly missed, shooting two feet behind the tiny gray missile as it whizzed over my head.  When the second dove came within range, it, too, miraculously dippsy-doodled through a string of shot.  I shook my head, muttered a few choice words a little harsher than Keith had and popped two more shells into the chambers of my Browning over-and-under.  I shut the action just in time to see two whitewings coming in low over the sunflowers.  They were heading straight at me as if they were on a strafing run.

I raised the 20-gauge deliberately until the barrel covered the lead bird.  As the sight went past the whitewing, I pulled the trigger.  The dove folded its wings and crashed to the ground less than five feet behind me.

The initial flight at the Arlington Wildlife Area lasted two hours that morning.  During that time, Keith and I shot uncounted shells before downing our limits.  Understandably, neither of us claims prowess with a shotgun.

Arlington, along with Robbins and Black Butte, are owned by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and are located in the "Green Belt," a long stretch of lush vegetation that borders the Gila River from Phoenix to Arizona's western border near Yuma.   Besides being ideal dove nesting areas, this area along the Gila provides excellent pass shooting as the birds fly from their roosts in the thickets and head to the nearby grain fields. The department leases the surrounding land to local farmers.   In turn, they must raise grain crops specifically meant to help feed the numerous mourning and whitewing doves that habitually nest and roost in the thick growth along the river.  

Some hunters favor citrus groves or desert water holes, but over the last 25 years I have found the farm country west of Phoenix, near Buckeye and Gila Bend, to be the most productive.   In most places, a person who can shoot reasonably well --- certainly better than either Bill or I --- can take a 10-bird limit in less time than it takes to eat a hearty breakfast.   

 In the southern half of Arizona, many cities and towns have nearby agricultural regions.  The farms around Casa Grande, Eloy and Florence normally offer excellent shooting, and experienced wingshooters regularly describe the shooting in the fields near Yuma as incredible.  At times, the Picacho Reservoir area deserves a 10 as well.  A friend of mine from Tucson regularly takes limits near that city or sometimes goes east to the grain fields around Safford or Wilcox.

  Hunting doves in farm country is rather simple and usually amounts to pass shooting at incoming birds.  For the most part, getting in position before daylight or an hour before sunset between the bird's nesting and feeding areas holds the key to success.  Of course, being able to hit the targets consistently is a great help. 

  Doves go to food and water each morning and afternoon.  One to two hours later, most return to the tamarisks and mesquite trees in the river bottoms or into a neighboring citrus grove.  Therefore, merely turning around in the opposite direction to watch for the returning birds could complete a limit.

Although mourning and whitewing doves are closely related, they differ in many ways.  Those who have hunted doves for any time are no doubt aware of the whitewing's habits.  Unlike mourning doves, which often remain in Arizona year round, the whitewings head south to winter in Mexico at the first signs of cool weather.  Sometimes, this occurs as early as mid-August.  They will remain below the border until the following May, when they return to Arizona to nest.

For the hunter, however, the most important concern is the difference between the feeding habits of the two species.  Mourning doves are ground feeders.  Although they will feed between rows of standing grain, they normally prefer fields that have been harvested already.  In contrast, the whitewing does the opposite.  You'll frequently see them filling their crops while perched atop maize, safflower or sorghum plants.  So when you choose a hunting spot, it's smart to keep this in mind; if there's no standing grain fields in the vicinity, you can almost forget putting a lot of whitewings in your game vest.

When the weather cools later in the season and the whitewings leave for warmer climes, I like to use the mourning dove's feeding habits to my advantage by "walking" them up.  This technique is ideal to use after the early morning flight is over.  Because it involves every imaginable shooting angle, the jump shooting method proves invaluable for hunters who wish to sharpen up their skills for flushing quail.  A few birds might fly directly away; others might head to the left or right, or straight at you. 

Be forewarned, though; locating downed birds in fields covered with a copious crop could be difficult.  A good retriever, however, will take care of the problem.

Hunting a particular spot year after year is not always a sure thing.  Low grain prices might force a local farmer to switch to a more profitable crop, such as cotton, which fails to attract birds.  In the past, expanding development, fires and floods have destroyed traditional nesting habitat.  Although this has had the most devastating effect on the whitewings, it has taken a toll on mourning doves, too.

Undoubtedly, pre-season scouting is an important factor for hunting success.  Yet it's better to wait until a day or two before the season actually opens since some many variables could affect the habits of the birds.  If you find a good spot for whitewings in mid-August, a seasonal storm might send them packing before September 1. Because the dove's daily routine is predictable, the hunter who figures out the pattern a day or two before the season opener should score well during the first few days.    

My favorite method involves a lot of driving.  First, I choose a broad area, and then narrow down the choices by driving the roads either early in the morning or late in the evening.   Doing this gives me a general idea of the bird concentrations and also the species that is most prevalent.  Of course, in recent years, finding a mother lode of whitewings has become extremely rare.

After finding good bird numbers, I spend some time watching the flight pattern and trying to determine how long the birds are on the move.  Occasionally, this will take more than a day.  It even might pay to wait for the birds to return to give you an estimate of how long they feed before heading back to their roosts.

Searching out a likely ambush spot comes next.  I search out a natural blind that allows me to see in all directions.  For the ease of locating downed birds, I also look for one with fairly open ground close at hand.  The blind might simply be a big tree, a pile of tumbleweeds or an irrigation ditch deep enough to hide in without getting wet.  As a matter of habit, I always wear clothing that will blend with my planned hideout and avoid ANY white or bright colors. 

Many of the places I hunt border public land.  At times, though, the best flights take place over someone's farm, in which case I seek out the owner and ask permission to hunt.  Most landowners are happy to have you as long as they know what you're doing in their fields.

  Even though the bird population is down, hunting doves in Arizona still provides a fast-paced, heart-thumping brand of action rarely encountered in other types of hunting.  And as usual, I'll be out there letting the sun bake my brains, getting frustrated by my numerous misses and elated by the good shots. 

 

-----30-----

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Will do.
 

We’ll have a smal army of youths at a dairy,, blasting away. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, lancetkenyon said:

Make sure you check which dairy.  The one from the last few years is GONE.

Sadly, yes it was closed but a friend of a friends daughter plays volley ball with the daughter of an owner!! True story 

 

had to take extreme measures because no one else invited me!!

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, AZLance said:

flying rats!

That is why we kill as many as possible.  Adam still has me on a one day total of 100 or 101, but I had a few 85+ days last year.  Eurasions are so much fun to shoot.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, lancetkenyon said:

That is why we kill as many as possible.  Adam still has me on a one day total of 100 or 101, but I had a few 85+ days last year.  Eurasions are so much fun to shoot.

Oh ya. My oldest loves it and this will be my youngests first  trip hunting. But she’s only an observer. Hoping but Saturday she’s ready for the .410

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good Luck to everyone, i will be down Thursday to do a little hunting with my son!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×