John's Journal...

Dove Hunting Vs. Dove Shooting

Day 1: Hunting the Beginning of Dove Season

Editor’s Note: Dove season arrives soon all across the United States. As a sport, dove shooting is as traditional as a southern barbecue. But something new has been added: calling and decoying the gray speedsters.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewThe doves were pouring into the field. The shooting was fast and furious, and on the horizon I could see gray specks falling from the sky like snowflakes before I heard the report of the shotguns. Off to my right, I spotted a pair of birds coming in – skirting the edge of the field and darting in and out of the treeline. “This will be an easy shot,” I told myself. “If I’m lucky, I should be able to double on this pair of birds.” But as I watched the birds come in, I saw movement in the sky slightly off to my left. There was another dove coming straight for the tree under which I was sitting. Looking at that bird and then turning swiftly to face the two incoming birds, I calculated that all three doves should pass by my shooting position at about the same time. My brain began to work overtime trying to figure out my distance from the birds and which bird I should take a shot at first. But the pea-sized computer between my ears was overloaded with information and failed to give an accurate answer as to which bird to shoot first. As a matter of fact, indecision and frustration were blinking on the screen in my mind’s eye.

But there was no time for recalculations, because the doves were well within gun range. I had to shoot rapidly or get no shot at all. Instinctively I swung to try and take the lead bird of the pair of doves coming-off to my right. Just as I squeezed the trigger, the dove that had been coming in straight in front of me dove across my sight plane and broke my concentration as the gun went off. Although I missed, I recovered quickly to try and take the trailing dove of the twosome that had been coming to my right. My second shot missed too. However, just as the fast bird slipped over a small beech tree on the edge of the field, I fired again, and a cloud of feathers indicated that my aim finally had connected.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewOpening day of dove season often can be a wild and frustrating frenzy of fast shooting, plenty of birds and much spent powder and bullets. But after opening day, the doves that have survived have acquired a college education on how to dodge hunters. These surviving doves are wild and very spooky. And dove shooting becomes dove hunting – which is an altogether different sport.

How to Hunt Deer Like a ProTo learn more about John E. Phillips’ beautifully-photographed books, many complete with how-to videos, go to, type in “Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” and when that comes up, click on the John E. Phillips’ author’s page to see a list of about 20 of his outdoor e-Books available on Kindle.

Tomorrow: Dove Hunting – Not Dove Shooting

Check back each day this week for more about "Dove Hunting Vs. Dove Shooting"

Day 1: Hunting the Beginning of Dove Season
Day 2: Dove Hunting – Not Dove Shooting
Day 3: Dove Calling
Day 4: The Flight Patterns of Doves and Where to Make Decoy Spreads
Day 5: Other Areas for Calling and Decoying Doves

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Entry 680, Day 1