Dove are small migratory birds that cover extremely long distances every year. Moving south in the fall to escape harsh northern winters, doves are often found in agricultural areas due to the fact that their diet consists largely of seeds and grains including milo, corn, and wheat.
Where To Hunt Dove
The best places to hunt doves are found in South America, with Argentina being the holy grail. With an estimated population of over 32 million birds in the northern areas of the country, there is no doubt that an Argentine dove hunt is second to none. However, fantastic dove hunting can also be found in the States and Canada, as birds migrate from southern Canadian regions to the bottom of the US. Areas with agriculture are often hotspots due to the habitat and food they provide for the birds as they travel south.
Dove Hunting Techniques
Doves are most active when they are moving between roosting and feeding areas. As with most birds, this occurs in the morning and evening. Typically, dove hunts begin in the late afternoon and continue until evening shooting light, as birds move more in the evening than in the morning.
Hunters can choose to be as simple or as complex with their hunting set ups as they want. Plenty of doves are killed every season by hunters using only a lawn chair and a shotgun. However, doves often respond well to decoys. Frequently, decoys with spinning wings are used to draw birds into range, and it is not uncommon to see substantial spreads of these in the field. This can be very effective if birds are flying, but stationary birds will not be affected. Because of this, the best tool for dove hunting is other hunters. Some of the best hunts are caused by large numbers of hunters surrounding a field. With every shot, birds get up and move around, and, if you have a field surrounded, birds will stay in the air and continue to offer shots.
Any manner of shotguns can be used for dove hunting. The small birds do not require a powerful round, so smaller shells with light loads are used to mitigate meat damage. Also, due to the fast and furious nature of dove hunting, hunters frequently burn through a lot of shells. Because of this, make sure to bring a gun you are comfortable shooting many times and several boxes of shells to feed it.
Dove Hunting Regulations
Due to the migratory nature of doves, they are considered a national resource and federally managed. This federal management comes with an additional set of rules, such as the inability to bait and increased severity of punishment for breaking the law. When it comes to licenses, hunters must purchase a migratory bird permit from US Fish and Wildlife in addition to their regular state hunting license. Despite the additional permitting, dove hunting is often very inexpensive in the United States. However, Argentina has additional regulations regarding bird hunting.
Landing in a foreign country with guns is a slightly more complicated process than traveling with firearms domestically. However, due to the nature of Argentina’s waterfowl hunting and the tourism that it draws, the government has made the process as simple as possible with only some forethought required. First, you must fill out a gun permit form and make several copies. These, as well as a $150 payment, will be given to Argentine customs when you arrive. In addition, it would be smart to register your weapon and its attachments with your home country’s customs. This proves that you did not purchase them while on the trip and ensures that you will be able to re-enter your country with your belongings when you return home. Once these easy tasks are completed, you are ready to hunt.
Dove Food Quality
You might look at a dove and think that the small amount of meat is not worth the effort, but with very large bag limits and the ease of cleaning, the total number of birds bagged often make up for their small stature. Like most game birds, dove can become very dry if overcooked. To combat this, hunters around the world often wrap them in bacon or turn them into jalapeno poppers. Well-prepared dove can be compared to milder duck meat.