As a nation of dove hunters, we take five to seven shots for every bird bagged. With the price of shotshells what it is, I can’t afford to miss that much. I’m hoping to hit one out of three shots when the season starts; that’s a good average if you shoot at everything that comes into range. Although doves zipping randomly around a field present a wide variety of shots, we can fit most of the toughest shots into five main categories. Here they are, and here’s my advice for shooting them.
A bird that comes all the way across the field to you is surprisingly easy to screw up. It’s even worse if you announce (I’ve done this) to the person next to you: “I’m going to shoot this dove.” Avoid the temptation to mount the gun early and track this bird all the way in. Inevitably you’ll look back at the bead to check your lead and stop the gun, or the dove will dip down below the muzzle and you’ll have to scramble to find it again. Instead, wait for it with the gun ready, butt tucked loosely under your arm. As the bird comes into range, look at the beak and make a smooth mount and shoot the bird in the nostrils.
2. The Dove With Its Jets On
When you’re in a crowded field, sometimes you have to root for a dove to get past other people so you can shoot it yourself. Problem is, when that bird reaches you, it’s speeding and juking all over the sky. This one is a no-brain reaction shot—you have to trust your…