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Preparing your Dove Plots


          For many parts of the southeast, now is the time to get your plots ready for dove season. Admittedly, some crops may be a tad late for opening day, but are at a perfect timing for the later seasons.

While it is true that most dove hunters only hunt the first few weeks of the season, there is excellent hunting to be had during all three of the seasons for doves. Like many sportsmen, I cut my teeth on hunting and shooting while sitting in a dove field with my dad. While he wasn’t what you would call a hunter, he did love to shoot doves, and the opening week and beyond would find him sitting along a manicured field spreading lead across the countryside. Unfortunately, I did not inherit his ability to hit these fast flying targets. On many occasion I witnessed my dad fill his daily limit of twelve birds in as many shots, and on occasion on less. I still remember the time I first saw him kill two birds with one shot. Being amazed, I heralded his praise as the luckiest shot in the field, that is until he did it again, and this time calling his shot. “See those two coming over yonder?” he asked. I nodded in confirmation.

“When they get right here, I’ll let them line up and get ‘em both with one shot again to show you it wasn’t luck last time.” Sure enough, at the report of the Remington Sportsman 12 gauge, two birds fell dead. To this day, I have never done that on accident or otherwise.

Like my father, there are many sportsmen who love a good dove shoot. But in order to ensure a good shoot, land owners and managers need to start now getting the crops ready.

When it comes to dove fields in the south everything starts with the sunflower. All else is just gravy on a platter of sunflower. Thankfully, there are several varieties that mature at different rates helping land owners plant at different times to ensure a healthy crop when the season opens and lingers. In addition to sunflower, milo, brown top millet and even corn are all excellent choices for dove fields. The best fields have a mixture of these in them to bet the best bang for your buck.

When planting different crops, most will do it in strips. Seven or eight rows of sunflower, three vacant rows followed by seven or eight rows of millet then three vacant rows, followed by seven or eight rows of milo etc. etc. this does several things. First it ensures there is a crop for feeding birds during the first two season. Second it provides excellent cover for hunters to hide while shooting over some of the crops planted.

Hunters need to follow the rules and regulations when planting and manipulating crops for doves. Read the regulations and if you have a question, contact your local DNR officer for clarification.

Getting your crops in the ground now will make sure you have a good stand when the season opens. Certainly we cannot predict the weather, with rain and heat to contend with, but for the things that are under our control, we have done the best we could under the circumstances.         Dove season is a great way to introduce a new hunter to the sport. It’s relaxing, challenging and social. The combination makes for excellent fun and memories with those we care about most.