It might seem like a long time until the start of dove hunting season. However, now is the time to start preparing your dove field so you can have a great season opener.
If you don’t already have an established dove field on your property, the following tips will help you create and maintain a successful field this upcoming season.
Determining the ideal spot to build a dove field is probably the most important factor. Birds are attracted to spots that provide the most food, grit, water, bare dirt, and areas to roost. If you can find a spot that has most – if not all – of these factors, then you are off to a great start.
Grit is essential for doves to digest their food. It can sometimes be found in sandy soils but is mostly found on gravel roads. Having a dirt or gravel road next to your field will make your spot more attractive to doves.
If you happen to have a power line running through your property, you might want to consider using it. If not, you can always add fake power lines. When they’re not feeding below, doves will usually sit on the lines. Scouting the number of birds on the power lines will give you a good indication of when to shoot your field.
Water is also an important factor that most hunters don’t consider. Small ponds or drainage ditches are great to have on your field. The banks should be clean, so the birds will feel comfortable drinking water and won’t feel threatened by predators.
Open ground or bare dirt needs to make up approximately 40 percent of your field. Doves do not like cover, they like open areas. Mowing strips of crops for food is a great way to open up areas and feed the doves at the same time. You can also go back over the strips with a tiller which will create smooth, fine dirt that doves feel comfortable around.
Ultimately, growing crops is the only legal way to feed the doves. The best crops for a dove field are sunflowers, corn, millet, sorghum, and wheat. If possible, plant these in smaller strips, while rotating the crops. Two weeks before you plan to shoot, you will want to spray glyphosate to kill the plants, which allows the seeds to fall to the ground. Consider staggering your plantings so that you will have plenty of food for the entire season.
Make sure to also check with your local National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) chapter about discounts on seed through their seed subsidy programs.
Having a great dove field is an ideal opportunity to host friends and family on your property for a fun time. It’s a great social outing that can also be full of action and very rewarding if you plan appropriately. If you’ve got more questions, feel free to reach out to your local NLR Land Professional!