Dove hunting in Texas is many times the first introduction a young person or first-time hunter gets to the field-to-table experience. Doves are abundant, and the recipes to cook them are just as plentiful. Although the dove’s numbers in Texas are high, they are a challenge to hit, making the meal even more rewarding. Dove are excellent table fare. The social atmosphere of a Texas Dove Hunt combined with the challenge of the quarry make the evening meal truly memorable. Preparing for the dove hunt can make the difference between dove and rice, and rice and dove! It’s not exactly complicated, but it can be a steep learning curve. Following these basic dove hunting tips can get you the right dove hunting gear to get started.
First, you need to know the difference between white wing doves and mourning doves. Both are common in Texas, but white wing doves are more prevalent in the southern part of Texas. The Whitewing Dove is a bit larger, and, in flight, will have a more rounded tail and fly a bit straighter. They are like the “Bomber Squadron” of the dove field. Next come the mourning dove. Just a bit smaller, these are the true acrobats of the dove field. When they fly, they are erratic and have pointier tails than their larger cousins. They are the “Fighter Squadron”. They will zip, zag, dive, and even stop mid-air in order to evade any surface-to-air ordinance. South Texas Dove Hunting gives you the chance to be challenged by both. Each has its own technique to be mastered and both will challenge the most seasoned bird hunter.
Second, you need to find the right spot to hunt. Doves like open areas with plenty of sun and little wind. Doves love to roost. They will want to have a tall spot to sit in before and after they come in for a drink and a bite to eat. If you can find the combination of cover, food, and water, you have found dove nirvana. Keep your eyes open when you are in the field. You will notice that dove use land objects to navigate. If you see doves in flight using the same flight path, chances are good more dove will use the same path. Find a shady spot along that flight path and get ready!
Third, you need to invest in some good quality gear. A good shotgun and ammunition are essential, and a comfortable chair or blind will make your hunt more enjoyable. Popular shotgun gauges are the 12, 20, 28 and .410. The birds are smaller, so a smaller shell typically in 7.5, 8 and 9 shot will leave you with more bird on the table. Find a shotgun that is comfortable in your hands and easy to swing; shorter field barrels are recommended.
Finally, you need to have patience. Doves are notoriously difficult to hit, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t bag one right away. The average shells to dove ratio is about 4.5:1. With a little practice, you’ll be bringing home a limit of tasty doves in no time.
A meal prepared with fresh South Texas Dove is more than just dinner; the challenge of the hunt, the social gathering in the field, and the excitement in a new hunter’s eyes all make Texas’ favorite-feathered field-to-table fowl an unforgettable feast!