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After I received a Super Black Eagle II from Benelli, I knew I needed to proceed immediately to the field to attempt knocking birds out of the sky. At the moment, dove season is in full swing in the Texas Hill country and they’ve been flying like crazy. So I placed a call to my buddy Kyle who just moved back to the good part of Texas and he met me out at the ranch.

Full disclosure, neither of us knew what we were doing. I’d been dove hunting precisely twice in my life. The first time down in Mexico on a quail hunt, but the dove seemed to be flying better, so it turned to dove hunting. And the second right after I graduated college when my buddy insisted I come, handed me a Beretta Silver Pigeon, and sat me down on a bucket. I shot AT a lot of doves, but didn’t hit anything. My buddy Kyle had done a lot of bird hunting years ago, but admitted that he was rusty. Not helping the situation was that the weather was giving us a soupy day with low ceilings, high winds gusting 15-20, and intermittent drizzle. We weren’t going to be stopped!

So Kyle picked up my Yildiz and I took the Benelli and off we went. We knew that the preferred method was to sit by a body of water and wait for the doves to fly over, but we were impatient to go and figured that a walk around the ranch might be a good start, and if we didn’t see anything, we’d head down to the pond and sit on a log to wait for birds. During our forty minute walk around the ranch, we flushed a lot of birds and it was more like pheasant hunting than anything else. We missed more than we hit, but managed to put two mourning doves in the bag. And by we, I mean Kyle. And by “missed more than we hit” I mean me.

Once we got settled in at the pond, we didn’t see any doves, but we did watch a flock of ducks fly in and land in the pond which I found particularly hilarious given the fact that I’d gotten this gun specifically for duck hunting. Unfortunately, we’re not in duck season so I watched helplessly as 10 or so ducks floated around, preened themselves, and made a bunch of noise at me. No doves flew over.

After a bit of time at the pond, we headed back to the house to stow our gear and head to town for lunch. Nick joined us at my favorite taco place in Kerrville, and then we started the long drive back with one quick detour. I had told Kyle and Nick that this Benelli gun must be junk because I hadn’t hit any birds that morning. First lesson of hunting is to always blamed your gear. To prove it, we stopped by Gibson’s to pick up some clays for my thrower. If you’re in the Kerrville area, I highly recommend you stop by Gibson’s for all your hunting and outdoor needs.

Once back at the ranch, we proceeded to murder clays and I had to admit that the Benelli is in fact an awesome gun, and I’m just a bad wingshooter. On that note, the rest of the day was pretty rainy. We saw some doves flying, but they were high up out of reach, and the ones that were flying low were BOMBING through. They’d come in unannounced and just scream through and then they were gone.

I can see why people get so addicted to dove hunting. The cost of entry is pretty low, though having a dog would have been helpful in recovery. But for the cost of a decent shotgun, a few boxes of shells, and access to some land, you can be up and running. I drove down to San Antonio on Monday to meet some clients and watched as doves flew overhead for most of my journey on the tollway, and I got a real burning desire to blow off work and head back out. Watch this space for a dove jalepeno popper recipe that is a real crowd pleaser.

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  1. Okay seriously! How do I stop the auto play on two separate ad banners on this page. First, I hate Verizon. Second, I really fricking hate Verizon auto play ads I cannot get to shut up!

  2. Find a cattle/stock pond in an empty pasture, then set-up with your back to the pond, facing the most likely feeding area for the doves, in the last couple of hours before sunset. When they are coming nearly straight-in (toward the water, which is behind you), they’re a lot easier to hit. Still not easy, but easier.

    Assuming all this is legal where you hunt, of course. I’ve used this method in several states, it’s always worked well, but I’m not familiar with Texas’ hunting laws.

    • Its hard to beat a good tank with nice coverage and some mojos setup near the tank. I had dove landing and flying so close to the mojo decoys last year, someone shot a couple of my clip on decoys.

  3. Opening day of dove season here in CA we had a water source and lots of hunters. Just after daylight. I’ve got a 20 ga. loaded with steel #7 and 11, count them 11, pigs mosey past like they had not a care in the world. Which they didn’t. Nothing suitable to shoot them with.

      • That’s a problem. Finding non lead slugs for a 20 bore is chancy. I’ll be going back to that area this weekend with my .243.

        Quail season starts soon here. Lead shot is still allowed where we go for quail so I have some slugs I’ll carry then along with my lead #8.

  4. My current recipe involves some Cavenders seasoning (greek seasoning, got it from my hunting buddies)
    and sliced jalapeno + dove meat + topped with pepper jack cheese or also a portobello mushroom, sliced dove breast meat and your preferred cheese, I think we had provolone/parm last season one weekend.

    Really been enjoying these posts as I will most likely not get to hunt any birds this year.

    • “Really been enjoying these posts as I will most likely not get to hunt any birds this year.”

      Same here. Torn rotator cuff, and even though I’m fairly ambidextrous, I’m not eager to lift with OR take recoil on the bum shoulder, so it’s gonna be a quiet season.

  5. OK, here’s the deal on doves:

    You’ll see the highest numbers in areas where there is plenty of feed. What’s that?

    Grass that has been allowed to go to see, or grain fields.

    One year, when we grew 160 acres of triticale, we had doves coming out our ears. You could limit out on our place in 15 minutes.

    The next year, the doves remembered who had the quality grain, and they were back – in huge numbers.

    Doves look for food.

    Now, as to loads:

    I’d recommend #8 shot, 1 oz. I’d recommend nothing tighter than a modified choke. Many of your shots will be passing shots, and unless you’re a really hot shotgunner, you will miss with a tight choke. Some dove hunters go as wide as improved cylinder chokes for dove.

  6. I’m not a hunter and have never been hunting, but this discussion really makes me want to try it. I love shooting clay, wouldn’t be too bad that I get to eat it afterward.

    • Yes, go dove hunting or any other bird. It will make you want to be a better trap/skeet shooter and then you will want to hunt birds and then got shoot trap/skeet more and then go looking for dove fields to hunt and then your wife will nag at you for not being home or nag you for not bringing home enough birds…. Man, it goes on and on.

  7. Good stuff Tyler. I’ve also got a decent bird recipe or two. I use the same ones on chukar, dove and quail.
    Dove are the F-16’s of the sky. You’ve gotta be really fast and give them a huge lead. And if you shoot a head on strafer, don’t take your eyes off of it!

  8. “The cost of entry is pretty low”..


    a $1,300 gun, a hunting permit, gas, etc.. ÷ 2 doves. = ?

    I’ll just keep *buying* my “birds” @ Costco.. pre-cooked for $4.99 each.

  9. It can be kept low…..

    H&R single shot 20ga, shells, and hunting license. Less than 300.00.

    Fancy/Expensive guns only “look better” in the field, but it doesn’t mean jack s**t if you can’t hit anything. 😀

  10. Re: ducks…..didn’t early teal season begin on the 13th? Also, I swear mojo decoys are worth their weight in dove meat. Especially the motorized ones. And Dyspeptic Gunsmith is right, grain fields are great. The water holes are better around sunrise/sunset.

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