Tuesday, February 7th, 2023
Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

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For pure challenge, nothing beats pass-shooting doves

Of all the game birds available to hunters, few rival the sheer wingshooting challenge of pass-shooting doves.

I’ve often heard that quail are harder to hit than just about any game bird. After pursuing them last fall on a couple of tracts of public land in Nebraska, I don’t believe it.

When a covey busts, it can be a bit overwhelming, but picking up the singles and doubles with a good dog after that isn’t the most difficult wingshooting I’ve ever experienced.

I can’t say the same thing about doves.

At least when it comes to pass-shooting doves, I’m not sure there is an easier bird to miss. Ruffed grouse in the thick stuff are pretty tough, of course, but I still don’t rank them with doves. There are a few ducks that can cruise through fast enough to make a hunter look stupid, but it’s a different deal if they decoy at all.

So, I’m sticking with doves. They are tiny, fast, and have an uncanny knack for engaging in aerial acrobatics right when you plan to touch off a load of 7.5s. That’s also one of the reasons I love them. Sure, they are delicious when prepared right, and are also one of the earliest birds we can hunt, but it’s the sheer challenge that gets me out there.

There is also something about them that convinces you that you’ve got your lead time just right after scratching a few out of the sky. That confidence is almost always short-lived because it’s a rare day when I (or anyone I hunt with) can string together more than a few good shots before an equal amount of whiffs.

Sometimes far more. I’ve never been humbled as much by a game bird than I have with doves. That’s one of the reasons I’m looking forward to our September opener. I know I won’t get too many shots, and the shots I do get will be the most challenging of the fall, but that’s okay.

That’s what dove hunting is all about.

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