Hunting the Mourning Dove 

mourning dovesWith 350 million Mourning Doves in the USA, it is one of the most abundant and widespread birds on the continent.  The Mourning Dove is also one of the leading game birds with between 20 and 50 million felled annually.  There is never much concern, however, about overall population because this dove, along with those related breeds, are prolific breeders.

Physical Traits of the Mourning Doves

Typically, the bird’s plumes are muted colors mostly light grays and browns and slightly pinkish below.  The wings will have black spotting on them while the tail feather is white.  Males and females are very similar in appearance.

Mourning Dove Behavior

The dove is a medium-sized bird, slender in build.  It’s foot long body on average weighs in at 4-6 oz.  What the Mourning Dove lacks in size and strength, it more than makes up for in agility.  They are swift acrobatic flyers causing many sky shots for hunters on the ground.  There ability to enter in and out of evasive maneuvers and hit tops speeds of 55 mph are what make this strong flyer a hard kill.

Where to find the Mourning Doves and Upland Birds

Mourning Doves do sometimes inhabit the cities; however, they still prefer open farms, prairie, and grasslands.  They are found throughout the state of Utah but are more prevalent in Box Elder, Toole, and Utah Counties.  During migration, they can travel between 50-100 miles per day but don’t worry, Utah is well within the migration route with millions flying south from Canada.

Hunting Mourning Dove

The much anticipate hunting season begins September 1 and last through September 30. However, Rush Lake Game Birds is a private ranch that offers year-round bird hunting. The following are a few tips and gear recommendations for downing this challenging and elusive bird. 

  1. Sun Up — Pre-dawn departures are important to catch this bird during early morning feeding times.  They will usually follow a direct path from their perch in trees or rooftops to an open field where there are grains for feeding.  If you miss them in the early part of the day, late afternoon watering holes are known to have high concentrations.
  2. Bird Decoys — Decoys are always an effective way to attract other birds to an area. Newer versions include battery-operated wings that spin and mimic the motion of birds.
  3. Guns — Whether bold action, pump, or semi-auto gas-operated guns, stick with what you are comfortable with.  Gas operated will have less recoil but tend to be a bit heavier so keep that in mind when lugging your weapon around all morning.
  4. Choke— Use a modified or improved-cylinder choke tube to provide a wider pattern.  This will ensure you still reach the target with high velocity but have a much wider kill zone from 30 feet out.  Tighter pattern projectiles have a tough time hitting this swift-moving bird and will heavily damage the animal from close range.
  5. Pellets — Most hunters are going to go with a No. 7.5 or 8 lead shot.  At a distance, this may be harder to hit a fast-moving bird.  Many also consider No. 5 or 6 lead shot for those long-range volleys. More high-velocity shells are making their way onto hunting grounds of late in search of higher percentage hits.

Accessories to Consider When Hunting Game Birds

Doves easily detect motion so in addition to moving slowly during the hunt, wear your camos and always keeping safety in mind.  Also, don’t forget your standard orange hunter vest.  You may even want to consider the 5-gallon bucket seats modified with rotation seat that will have you ready for any action you catch in your periphery.