Dove Hunting - Is it a thing?

Munster927

Active member
Same. I don't know anyone who has ever dove hunted here. I think we just have too many other game birds to hunt that doves get a pass.
 

Wolfchief

Member
We certainly do hunt doves in Indiana; similar to Illinois, there are a number of State Fish & Wildlife areas where specific fields are planted in sunflowers which, if weather cooperates and the sunflowers mature and proliferate, are excellent attractants of mourning doves. The season begins September 1 each year and bag limits in Indiana have varied from 10-15 over the years. It's best to practice with your shotgun of choice beforehand as the sport is more about scouting for the birds, then picking the best stand from which to pass-shoot them. Ranges are normally 20-30 yards and the birds fly fast, with a corkscrewing, dipping/diving manner that can make them difficult to hit. Some guys wear a lot of camo, I just wear neutral colored clothing and bring a hat to keep the sun off--and some mosquito dope to stave off the bugs. I've seen doves shot with everything from a .410 to a 12 gauge. Best I ever did was in 1988; a memorable year when we had permission to shoot over 120 acres of fully headed-out sunflowers. That fall I shot 149 doves with one memorable day where I shot 12/15 with my 870 28 gauge skeet gun. Can't see that well now....
 

Hunt1GSP

Member
I don’t know that MN plants fields for dove hunting, but a few people I know do hunt doves in MN.
Small grain isn’t as prevalent as it used to be but if you scout and can find some freshly harvested fields and get land owner permission you should do well.
 

BRITTMAN

Well-known member
ND started a dove season in the late 70s.

Some 30+ years ago, my brother, his two friends, and I would head 100 miles out and stay at my grandma's house around Labor Day.

We hunted doves two days and would typically come home with our limits (120 birds in two days). Mainly hunted cattle dug outs or ponds with mud flat edges. Birds would fly all day between fields (harvested small grain or sunflowers), the water and a tree grove or power line area. We had a half dozen decoys or so.

One day my grandma came by as we were cleaning birds and said oh my you are hunting who-who birds ??
 

John Singer

Active member
I moved to SE Minnesota 2 years ago. I thought I was moving to a state with dove hunting. It is not so.

Apparently the State of Minnesota used to manage some WMAs for doves a few years ago but they no longer do.
 

Bob Peters

Active member
I've been meaning to go Dove hunting the last 2 years in MN, but I've not made it out yet. My buddies do get a good shoot in on opener usually, they have access to a private gravel pit. They didn't bring the dog after the first year because it's loaded with sand spurs!
 

nater

New member
Here's my completely scattered MN dove primer:

There are a small number of WMA foodplots in SW MN that are planted with small grains (wheat/oats/etc). Crop rotations vary by the year. Call the Marshall, Windom, or Slayton Area wildlife offices for more information. New prairie seedings that are weedy, not mowed, and in sandy or gravelly areas can also hold birds--doves love ragweed/pigweed seed. Decoys help. Small water pools in upland areas can also draw them in.

It's not easy, but I have shot a limit of doves on public land, and I have had other pretty good days shooting 8-10 birds.

Your best bet is on unhunted private ground on a small grain field that was harvested a week or two at most before the season opens. Once that field has been harvested for 3-4 weeks it tends to get picked over, and new/green vegetation taller than 10-12 inches on those fields is unattractive to doves.

Scouting is key. If there are doves around, you will see them loafing on powerlines and pecking for grit on gravel roads. If you see 20 or 30 birds somewhere, there are probably 2-3 times that number in the area, and that's good enough for a hunt usually.

MN does not produce its own doves in the same numbers that you see in the plains states, but there can be good pushes through MN in the right conditions. That being said, one or two frosts or otherwise cold nights in mid September and the birds will be gone. Your best bet is the first couple of weeks of the season, at least in most years.

One of the challenges with private fields is that a lot of the same features that attract doves also attract geese, which attract goose hunters. And goose hunters tend to lock fields up pretty fast. In general, areas in the farm region/western half of the state where there is also still some cattle production, especially dairy - tend to have small grains, and tend to have doves.

A lot of times you can intercept the doves coming off private grain fields if the public land in the area has the only nearby trees (for roosting) or water (as long as there are gravel beds/sand bars/mud flats/etc.).
 
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John Singer

Active member
Doves are one of 8 upland birds in Minnesota. Last fall, I shot 6 of the 8.

I shot one dove (incidental to pheasant hunting, several pheasant, ruffed grouse, sharptail grouse, a couple of prairie chickens and a woodcock.

I did not shoot a spruce grouse or a Hungarian partridge.

A friend hunting with me did shoot one Hungarian partridge.
 

gimruis

Active member
Doves are one of 8 upland birds in Minnesota. Last fall, I shot 6 of the 8.

I shot one dove (incidental to pheasant hunting, several pheasant, ruffed grouse, sharptail grouse, a couple of prairie chickens and a woodcock.

I did not shoot a spruce grouse or a Hungarian partridge.

A friend hunting with me did shoot one Hungarian partridge.

Not bad John! Although a wild turkey is technically considered an upland game bird in Minnesota too, so there are 9, not 8.

Can't say that ever even seen a sharpie, prairie chicken, spruce grouse, or hungarian partridge here.
 

Munster927

Active member
Doves are one of 8 upland birds in Minnesota. Last fall, I shot 6 of the 8.

I shot one dove (incidental to pheasant hunting, several pheasant, ruffed grouse, sharptail grouse, a couple of prairie chickens and a woodcock.
John what unit do you Prairie Chicken hunt in? It's rare to come across a fellow prairie chicken hunter haha I've been applying every year for the last 12 years. I usually get picked every other year applying in 808.
 

John Singer

Active member
John what unit do you Prairie Chicken hunt in? It's rare to come across a fellow prairie chicken hunter haha I've been applying every year for the last 12 years. I usually get picked every other year applying in 808.

I have only been a Minnesota resident for two years. I apply for the unit just nort of the one that you hunt. I did not draw the first year but did last year.
 

John Singer

Active member
Not bad John! Although a wild turkey is technically considered an upland game bird in Minnesota too, so there are 9, not 8.

Can't say that ever even seen a sharpie, prairie chicken, spruce grouse, or hungarian partridge here.

While turkeys are technically an upland bird, so are crows.

I was only counting the upland birds that I can hunt over my dog.

I have never seen a spruce grouse and I saw my first Hungarian partridge, sharptail grouse and prairie chickens after moving here from Michigan.
 
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