While the hunting of deer and elk and duck may be talked about the most, the hunting of other game is alive and well in North America. One such game is the dove, which can be hunted all across the continent and provides an excellent source of entertainment, along with very good meat for eating when the hunt is over. Doves are a challenge to shoot, as most birds are, and it takes a great deal of skill and determination to take them down effectively. Doves are quick, small birds, and anyone with a good shotgun can hunt them successfully. Some skeet shooting beforehand will be necessary in case the doves take to the wing, and shooting of that style in the wild is very exciting and rewarding.
A twenty-gauge shotgun is probably the best to use, and an auto-loader is an excellent choice to help the hunter get off shots in quick succession before having to reload. This is helpful because the doves will be moving quite quickly after the first shot, and getting a few more on the wing increases the chances of hitting them considerably. A larger gun could be used, such as a 16-gauge or a 12-gauge shotgun, but these, especially the 12-gauge, are too large to be practical. That much firepower is an overkill and not needed for such small game.
Doves can see very well, so being concealed and camouflaged is a must. Scouting the area first will help a hunter find good concealment, where they can be hidden and still have good lines to shoot. Not scouting first is possible, but would be a mistake. There will be no guarantee of prey, and sneaking up on doves would be very hard to do. Also, the concealment could be poor, meaning the doves will note the hunter’s presence and fly away before they can be shot. Camouflage will help so much because it means the hunter will not have to be entirely covered in bushes and the like in order to be invisible, helping them get a clean shot.
Doves are quite predictable creatures, which helps in setting up on a proper line to hunt them. They roost at night and fly to the nearest water source when they wake. After this, they search for food. Since food can be unpredictable and move around depending on a multitude of factors — weather, availability, proximity of other game or predators — the best idea is to take them between the water source and the roost. This will be generally consistent and water sources are easy to find. Scouting, then, will not take that long once it has begun, and can be trusted to be accurate.
Dove hunting can also provide fun in the way of trips to different parts of the country. Different states have different seasons based upon the weather, the migratory patterns of the birds, and other such reasoning. This is great, because it means that one can hunt in different states at different times and never have to miss a season elsewhere. From New York to California, from Michigan to New Mexico, doves can be hunted all over the place. This can provide for the fun of travel with friends and new sights to be seen — mountains in the west and oceans in the east, forests in the north and deserts in the south. For those who have never had reason to travel much, dove hunting provides both an excuse and a reason. Getting out into nature in any other state can be an eye-opening experience, since it will provide a very different perspective on places and people than can be found on television or in urban centers. Other countries give great dove hunting experiences as well. Argentina is reputedly an excellent spot to hunt, and the people there are very friendly and hospitable. This means the hunter will get to experience another culture entirely, a much too rare opportunity.
Famous people have had fun hunting doves throughout history, as has the average hunter. Hemingway bragged of hunting doves for food while living in Paris. While this is by no means recommended, it goes to show that all types of people can enjoy dove hunting.