Wing Shooting Guide | How to Hunt Doves?

Hunting down doves is the simplest (in preparation and equipment and not in technique) and most loved social sports. It is considered the best hunting option even for the beginners. The ratio of dove hunting is far more than any other form of shooting. As you don’t need to spend a lot on the hunting equipment, it’s quite inexpensiveness. Maybe that’s the reason why people are more attracted towards it. Many of them even don’t know how to hunt doves down but they still go for it.


Fall is the hunting season when hunters all across the US get busy in wing shooting. As dove hunting season is here, I thought to share some useful info out of my personal experiences of mourning dove shooting. Let’s just hope that my shooting guide helps you in enjoying a successful hunting season.

  • Note: Of all the states of US, Texas state has the maximum numbers of doves to gun down.
A Dove

A Dove - Photo credit:

 What you really Need before the Final Hunt?

The list is too short. What you need to make it possible is;

  • Hunting License
  • Migratory Bird Permit
  • A shotgun and shells
  • Camouflaged hunting dress (a hat included)
  • Hunting boots or sneakers
  • Hearing protection
  • Shooting gloves (leather) to keep you from blisters
  • Dove hunting decoys (optional)
  • Dove Calling Whistle or a dove call (optional)
  • A trained retrieving dog (optional)
  • Note: A trained retrieving dog is normally hired by some hunters (it’s optional). The purpose is simply to send it to find the right way towards the recently gunned birds. (I never had one. But there are many hunters who want someone’s assistance. Dogs can be a good choice!)
Hunting with a trained retrieving dog

Hunting with a trained retrieving dog - Photo credit:

Find the Right Place to Hunt

I always start my hunt for mourning doves from the areas where there are a lot of seed-bearing plants like corn field, sunflower, oats, wheat and above all water. I would suggest the same for you. Such locations are more likely to have visits from the bevy of doves.

Spending some time quietly in such locations (sitting on a stool), would surely show you various mourning doves perching on the trees and shrubs around and cooing. These birds keep on landing on the ground after a few hours of rest, to eat or drink again. Keep your patience and wait for the right moment to come.

Wing Shooting in the Corn Field

Wing Shooting in the Corn Field - Photo credit:

Suitable Time to Hunt

Just planning about how to hunt doves immediately is not enough, choosing the right time of the day is equally significant.

  • Time for Morning Hunters: For morning hunters, just make sure you are at the shooting spot as the day breaks. Wait till 7:40 A.M., if you don’t find any sound or activity by the doves around, it’s time to leave. Remember, the hours before 9 A.M. are the best. As the time passes, the chances of getting your prey are lessened.
  • Right Time for the Evening Shooters: If any of you out there want to go for hunt in the late hours, I would recommend you to choose the time just before dusk. After a whole long day of flying and activity, this is the time when doves are finally back to roost.

What Ammo to Look for?

You can gun down a dove in a few small pellets. That is why I consider dove hunting simpler. The smaller shot sizes like 7-1/2, 8, or 9 are quite OK to go with.

But if you ask me about it, I would recommend you to load your shotguns with high-brass No. 9 shells, as it promises a more forceful and punchy shot. For a wider spread, addition of a skeet barrel is highly recommended.

  • Note: Dove is a small and fast bird. So a hunter should be active and quick while loading the gun and shooting. Autoloaders are the second great option for a quicker response by the hunter.

Right Placement of the Dove Decoys

Before you take your position, don’t forget to arrange the dove decoys properly (if you have them). Using decoys is a good technique to get the birds’ attention. These may entice them to come closer to it. Decoys come in various types and these should be placed accordingly.

  • Fence decoys
  • Tree decoys
  • Open ground decoys

Few should be placed on the open ground (a few inches above the ground), tree decoys on the dead trees (on a higher position) and some can be tied on the fences.

Use of Dove Calls

Using cooing whistles or dove calls, especially made to attract the mourning doves, is another optional technique that can be tried. These whistles sound exactly like the mourning coo of a dove. These dove calls work wonder in attracting the birds.

Once you are in the hunting field, you have set up the decoys, the next is just to blow these calls slowly. And the response would be overwhelming. I have personally tried these tricky tactics many time. It promises fun and a higher hunting rate of doves.

  • Note: These dove calls are best for using in the late morning and evening hours. These are more effective in the areas surrounded by trees.

Get Concealed!

  • By the time you have reached the hunting location, make sure you are not in a visible position. The very first thing is to be there in your camouflaged hunting dress. Mark your face with camo grease paint and mask. It helps in lessening the shine on your face. Many times people tend to ignore these steps, but believe me, it really helps. Especially for blending with the background.
  • Worrying about hiding yourself is not enough, your gun should also be in a position, where its movements cannot be detected easily. Simply use camo tape on it.
  • Note: All the wing shooters out there, make sure that you have complete info about dove-specific hunting and baiting laws before you set out for the final show down. Otherwise you may have to go through some undesirable situation.
A Dove Call

A Dove Call - Photo credit:

How to Hunt Doves

Let’s explore in detail what useful steps wing hunters are supposed to follow, to gun down the doves.

Step One: Patience is a Virtue Fellas!

Once you have taken your position and you see a bevy of doves flying nearby, instead of ruining things by making haste, wait for the right moment. Be quiet (that you may find hard) and motionless. Blow the dove call or the whistle to call them (if you have one) and let the bevy reach within your range of accuracy (it should be about forty yards or so).

Step Two: Stand up Swiftly!

As you have been waiting long, sitting on the stool, waiting for the doves. When they show up finally, don’t take aim in the sitting position (like many hunters do). Standup and go for it!

Step Three: Prefer a standing position for hunting

Standing position for hunting ensures a better balance of body and feet. You can divide your body weight equally on both feet or put your weight slightly on the front foot. While mounting the gun and taking aim of the bird, you can always reposition your feet. As doves are quite acrobatic species. So it would not be an easy target.

Step Four: Mount the gun correctly!

Make sure you have mounted the gun rightly without wasting much time. Remember, the stock of the gun should be touching your cheeks. Determine your dominant eye. Take your aim before pulling the trigger.

Gun stock and cheeks in a side by side position

Gun stock and cheeks in a side by side position - Photo credit:

Shooting Methods to Choose from!

Doves can be shot in two ways;

  • Swing-through method is a way where the wing shooter mounts the gun behind the bird, flying away. As the bird crosses you, and the barrels blocks the line of sight, start shooting continuously.
  • Hitting from the front method is used when the bird is approaching right in front of you. And is about to land anywhere. Let it come closer and take aim from the front. As the barrel blocks the bird’s view, pull the trigger.
Swing-through Method

Swing-through Method - Photo credit:

  • Note: Never start shooting randomly, as you see a number of doves flying in front of you. Pick out a single bird and gun it down first. Then go for the next.


To sum up, dove hunting is the best fun activity for both professional and recreational hunters. From oldest family member to the youngest, everyone enjoys it.

Plan your adventure well with all the necessary things to follow, like I have mentioned already. And above all, you must know how to hunt doves. Which I am quite sure, you do, by now! What say?

Have a safe and happy dove hunting season!

Captain Hunter

Captain Hunter provides guides on how to hunt effectively, answer reader questions, and reviews of the latest hunting gear. We specialize in providing expert information that does exactly what it claims. Our dedicated staff members are each seasoned professionals with a passion for hunting built upon years of in the field experience.

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