Hunting Water Holes and Light-In Trees For Doves

You can find and take more doves each season if you learn how to hunt doves instead of merely shoot doves and use Hunter’s Specialties’ dove-hunting products and camo accessories. You also can bag doves by hunting alone instead of going on organized shoots. You'll find doves very patternable, particularly if you’re hunting in the South, and especially during the early season because most of these early-season doves have their year-round homes there. Generally mature doves feed, water, gravel and roost in certain areas during the early spring. They'll build their nests close to these spots. When they raise their young, they teach the young birds where to feed, water, gravel and roost in these same regions. Once hunting season arrives, these birds usually will follow these same patterns until hunting pressure or cold weather causes them to move.

If you’ve ever wondered why doves are in one place and gone from there the next day or week, Keith Guyse, a wildlife biologist, explains that, "Only a 2- or a 3-degree change in temperature can cause doves to migrate in September and October. Oftentimes the temperature change is so slight that hunters don't even notice it. That's why you may see a field full of doves before the season, and then if that area has a temperature change a day or two before the season comes in, a large percentage of the birds will be gone by opening day. Doves are extremely temperature-sensitive."

Part of your success for dove hunting includes wearing camouflaged clothing and using Hunter’s Specialties’ convenient Color Camo Compac Make-Up Kit to camouflage your face and keep from spooking doves. Also plan to wear a jersey headnet or a net 3/4 face mask with adjustable nose bridge and eyehole and camo gloves from Hunter’s Specialties.

Doves have to feed and water every day, and that’s why dove hunters hold their shoots where they do - near food. Dove hunters therefore will experience the best shooting at daylight or an hour or two before dark during the cool part of the day when the doves will feed the heaviest. However, after the sun climbs high into the sky, you may find hunting for doves slow and boring, if you don't know how, where and when to hunt water holes.

Doves do have to water every day and often will water more than once a day, but not just any water hole will do. Extremely wary, doves have a highly-developed fear of predators and understand their vulnerability while on the ground. When a dove leaves the air and comes to the ground, the bird has to make sure first that he doesn't spot any predators. Doves frequent water holes with clean banks and little or no foliage so that the birds can light and see predators coming. So, you'll often see doves using water troughs where cattle and horses water or farm ponds for cattle and horses.

But even when doves come to water, they carefully look over an area before they actually move to the ground to drink. That’s why hunters enjoy using Hunter’s Specialties’ Collapsible Super Light Portable Blind to camouflage themselves from the doves. Birds of habit, doves generally will pinpoint one or two trees immediately on the edge of a pond or a pasture with a water trough that they can fly into, land in and watch the water hole. Although doves will fly straight to water, often they fly to some type of vantage point where they can light and survey the water hole for a few minutes before they fly down to drink.

To hunt a water hole effectively, scout the area first. If you can determine the trees that the doves use to light in before they fly down to the water, you'll have a perfect place to set up a stand and take doves. Dove hunters agree that the trees the doves use as lookout stations before they fly in to water will provide better stand sites than their taking stands right at the water hole. If you set your dove stool up at the water hole, and the dove flies into a tree away from the water hole where it can see the water hole, the dove probably will spot you before you see it. Then the dove won't come in to water. However, if you take a stand near the tree where the dove plans to fly into, then the dove will have its attention focused on the tree where it wants to light. The dove won't expect to encounter you under or to the side of the tree.

Hunting around lighting-in trees also will help you get much better shots at the doves than you'll have if you set up by the water hole. When the doves come to light in the trees, they'll sometimes hesitate in the air like a duck coming in to light in a decoy spread. Then they'll slowly ease themselves down to put their feet on the limbs. A dove stopped in the air and fluttering down to the limb presents an easy shot for the gunner. However, some hunters prefer to let the doves light before they shoot.

Too, you can use decoys successfully at water holes. And, you can set decoys in a tree near a lighting-in tree before and watch high-flying doves spot those decoys in the trees and come in as though you’ve got them on a kite string. Decoying doves while you hunt water holes can increase your success by at least 50 percent.