Field and Stream - - THE MIXED-BAG CHEAT SHEET - —W.B.

You’re mak­ing a mis­take if you store your dove gun on La­bor Day. The over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of dove hunt­ing pres­sure oc­curs dur­ing the first two weeks in Septem­ber, but dove sea­sons are fre­quently open through­out fall, and some of the best shoot­ing hap­pens from late Novem­ber into the first week of De­cem­ber. Cold fronts move mi­grat­ing doves, same as ducks, and this time of year they’re easy to find around cut corn and milo fields.

It can be tough talk­ing enough bud­dies out of their tree­stands for a proper shoot on a large field, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still bag a mess of birds by your­self. Look for smaller cut fields with lots of left­over stub­ble and waste grain, and plenty of big trees around the edges. I seem to see the most late-sea­son doves on high-pres­sure, blue­bird days fol­low­ing a front—and when you flush a few birds while scout­ing, you usu­ally flush a bunch. Tuck into nearby edge cover and wear full cam­ou­flage; far too many hun­ters un­der­es­ti­mate a dove’s eye­sight. Stake a cou­ple of spin­ning-wing dove de­coys 15 to 20 yards out in the field, and try to keep your gun loaded. These typ­i­cally aren’t the all-day, high­vol­ume shoots of Septem­ber, but the ac­tion can be in­tense for an hour or two. If the birds quit fly­ing be­fore you fill your limit, pick up, scout an­other field, and do it all over again.

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