Nine Bar Ranch Blog
Both seasoned pros and novices alike can get a lot of enjoyment out of Texas dove hunting. Here are a few tips to get you started this season.
What Is the Best Time for Dove Hunting?
Part of successful hunting is knowing when to be there. If there are no doves in the sky, you’re wasting your time. You’ll have the best luck finding them during the times when they’re flying from nests to food. Generally between 8:00 and 10:00 in the morning and 5:30 to 7:00 at night.
What Should You Wear?
Bright orange and reflectors can spoil a hunt before it ever starts. Doves see in color and will flare when they see something abnormal. Wear camo, brown, olive, or tan clothing to blend into your surroundings. Avoid movement to prevent alerting the flock.
Ear protection is also a must for hunters. If you’re in a field with other hunters, the sounds of the shots going off all around you can be deafening. Save your hearing and wear some protection, even if it’s foam plugs.
Eye protection is also important. On a sunny day they reduce glare and improve your shots. They also protect your eyes from falling shot.
How Far Out Should You Be to Shoot a Dove?
Too close and you’ll give yourself away. Too far and you won’t have any accuracy. The best range is thirty to forty yards. Get used to overshooting the birds. Shoot six feet in front of them and you’ll hit more often. You’ll need to shoot while sitting so practice from a sitting position.
What Shot Should You Use?
Smaller shots are best for these birds. A little goes a long way so 7½, 8, or 9 should do the trick. The best overall shell may be an ounce or 1 1/8 ounce load. You may go through several boxes of shells during one hunt.
Bring a Well-Trained Dog
Man’s best friend is also a hunter’s best friend. A typical hunter will only retrieve seventy to eighty percent of his downed doves. A retriever will bring back all of them. A dog is invaluable when you’re shooting in high grass. He can sniff out the dove when you can’t see it. If you’re trying to shoot two birds at one time you can’t watch to see where the first bird falls or else you’ll miss the second bird. You’ll waste valuable time looking for the first when a dog can bring you both. Many breeds of dogs instinctively are good hunting companions—spaniels, retrievers, labs, and pointers are common.
Always Follow Safety Guidelines
- Engage your safety when your gun is not in use, including when walking through a field looking for downed doves. Keep your safety on AT ALL TIMES until you’re ready to shoot.
- Never shoot at a dove below the tree line; you might hit other hunters or animals.
- Remember to unload the gun before you leave the field.
- Don’t partake in any alcoholic beverages until the hunt is over, or until you’re safely home if you’ll be driving.
At this point in the early season, deer hunting in North Texas can be extremely rewarding for novices and experts alike. Many times here on the blog we like to try to educate for those who are just starting out as hunting enthusiasts, but today we speak to those who are season veterans of the sport.
If you’ve been hunting in North Texas, or in the nearby regions for many years, you likely have tried and true tactics, gear, routines, and even superstitions that you carry through from year to year. However, even the best hunters can always learn new tricks! Read on for our top 5 deer hunting tips from the pros:
1. Go for the aggressors.
Challenge yourself right now while you have the chance to hunt bully bucks. You can find them (via observing or deer cams) by their posturing at nearby bucks, stubborn and territorial behavior, especially while feeding. Utilizing a younger buck call can draw them toward you as they may want another challenge.
2. Make use of modern technology.
By monitoring the movements of a nocturnal buck with a mobile trail camera, you’ll be able to discover exactly when he begins making daytime movements. Then you can move in quickly (within a few days maximum) to hunt him within his movement area for a successful kill.
3. Strategically plant a cedar tree within shooting range.
Since bucks faithfully check food plots for does at this time of year, you can take advantage of that knowledge. Uproot a small cedar tree and dig a decent hole about 20 yards from your hunting vantage point. Add to the ruse by making a mock scrape under it to draw all of the bucks right to you.
4. Use body language.
Seeking bucks will be quick and moving with intent. They’re on the lookout for a doe which means they’re much less aware of their surroundings and are less likely to notice you. Ignore all of the slower moving bucks. Also good to look for in seeking bucks: laid back ears and hair that is standing up. These are signs that the buck is aggressively on the hunt and that he’ll be likely to come toward your call.
5. Follow the frost.
After the first frost of the year, most bucks are still in their seeking phase. Look for deer that go out at first light to look for food. When the cold dawn air puts them off their usual food scents, many will lay back down for a few more hours while the temperature rises. By mid-morning, there is usually a ton of activity with bucks who are now going out to feed and also starting their doe seeking activity for the day. You can see a lot of action if you time it just right.
We know that deer hunting in North Texas is much more than a hobby for the serious hunter. Scouting, planning, location and the right equipment as well as knowing how to disguise your own scent are all part of the act. If you’ve got a great expert tip that we didn’t share here, please post it in the comments!