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10 Tips for Dove Hunting

Conquer the challenge of dove hunting, with tips and suggestions from DSG Outerwear.

Quick and agile, doves can be a challenge for wing shooters, but it’s a challenge that both beginners and seasoned hunters can enjoy. And while the best way to learn the techniques for successfully pursuing a certain species is by spending time out in the field, there are a few tips and tricks you might consider adding to your arsenal before diving into your first dove hunt.

Licensing and Regulations

Before hunting any species, it’s important to be aware of the regulations set by your state authorities. In this case, look into bag limits, hunting hours, and permits required. Following the regulations will help protect the dove population and ensure a better hunting experience. Be especially mindful of the season dates for your area—some states have both an early and late dove season.

Shotgun and Load

Given how small doves are, accuracy is essential to success in the field. Choose a lightweight shotgun, such as a 20- or 12-gauge with a modified or improved cylinder choke—which will allow you to achieve a wider pattern. Use smaller shot sizes, such as 7.5 or 8, to minimize damage to the game. Keep in mind that these smaller loads lose their power at greater distances.

If you’re new to wing-shooting, make sure that your shotgun is limited to holding only three shotshells. Regulations require that when hunting migratory birds, shotguns must have a plug that limits the weapon’s holding capacity to three shells (one in the chamber, two in the magazine).

The DSG Outerwear Field Pants are a lightweight favorite for early season dove hunting.

Practice, Practice, Practice

One of the best ways to improve your shotgun shooting accuracy is by practicing shooting at a skeet range or clays in an open field. This will help you develop your aim and accuracy, which will come in handy when it counts. Practice both stationary and moving targets as doves are fast-moving birds that can change direction rapidly.


Mastering shooting techniques is essential for successful dove hunting. Anticipate the doves' flight path and lead your shots, aiming slightly ahead of them to account for their speed. Some dove hunters recommend that you exaggerate your lead, given just how fast these birds are. Keep in mind that about one inch of barrel movement is equal to one foot of distance when you’re shooting moving targets. Also, as a bird approaches, take time to securely shoulder your shotgun. You’d be amazed how often a rushed gun mount can lead to off-kilter shooting.

Scouting Locations

Identify prime dove hunting locations by scouting areas with reliable food sources, watering holes, and roosting spots. Doves are attracted to sunflower fields, freshly harvested grain fields, and other areas with abundant seeds and grains. Also, keep in mind the flight patterns of doves—they tend to follow the same routes when flying to and from their feeding grounds. Observe their flight patterns early in the morning or evening to pinpoint these preferred routes.

From scouting excursions to field hunts, the DSG Outerwear Backpack is great for carrying all of your essentials.

Decoys and Dove Calls

Improve your chances of attracting doves by incorporating decoys and dove calls. Just make sure that the use of decoys is legal in your area first! Place static or spinning decoys in the hunting area to create a more realistic environment. Meanwhile, using dove calls to mimic their unique sounds will draw curious birds within shooting range.

Hunting Etiquette

Practice ethical hunting by only accessing private property if you have prior permission to. Respect the landowners, wildlife, and other hunters you encounter. If you’re hunting with others, maintain a safe distance from the other members of your party, and avoid shooting at low-flying doves or in the direction of people, houses, or structures.

Concealment and Camouflage

Doves have keen eyesight, so it’s important to blend in with your surroundings. Wear comfortable clothing that allows for movement and provides camouflage that matches the terrain. Fortunately, DSG Outerwear’s line of women’s hunting gear offers a variety of camouflage patterns to choose from. Mossy Oak® enthusiasts can choose between Obsession ®, Country DNA™, and Bottomland ® patterns. If you prefer Realtree, we have women’s hunting clothing available in the Edge ®, Excape™, and Max-7® patterns. During the early season, when temperatures may be high, choose hunting gear that is available in lightweight, breathable fabrics, like our Ultra Lightweight Hunting Shirt.

The Long Sleeve Camo Tech Shirt is versatile in its ability to offer sun protection and moisture wicking capabilities.

Essential Gear

Besides your firearm and shells, you’ll also want to pack binoculars for identifying doves from a distance, a hunting vest or bag to carry your gear, sun protection, plenty of water, snacks, and tools for cleaning your harvest. For snack ideas, visit our blog Snacks to Pack for Your Outdoor Adventures.

After the Hunt

Handle harvested doves with care to preserve their meat quality. These small birds can be quite delicate, so remove the feathers promptly and cool the birds in a cool, dry location. Prepare them for cooking by plucking or breasting the birds. Seasoned dove hunters know that there are a variety of ways to enjoy this mouthwatering delicacy. For inspiration, try our Dove Nuggets recipe!

Doves are small, fast, and nimble. Therefore, dove hunting can be challenging. Head into dove hunting with practice, patience, and preparation. Regardless of the number of doves you harvest, we hope you enjoy the thrill of the hunt, while also taking time to appreciate being outdoors. 

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