Upland Birds


One of the most popular game birds in North America, mourning doves, enaida macroura, are hunted in 39 states with nearly 1 million hunters taking 20 million birds annually. The shooting is fast and furious, and unlike waterfowl or turkey hunting, all that’s really required is a shotgun, a pocket full of shells, and a good field. Doves are seedeaters that feed on bare ground, often in agricultural crops soon after harvest. Corn, wheat, oats and millets make great dove spots, but standing sunflowers may be the mourning doves’ preferred foodstuff. Group hunting is especially effective as it keeps the birds in flight longer. Opening day of dove season is a major event in the South and Midwest as families and friends often come together for large shoots, ending with a big spread of home cooking. Decoys can be effective when hunting doves, especially later in the season or in areas with heavy hunting pressure. Generally they’re placed around the shooter to entice the high-flying birds to swing closer. Like waterfowl, decoys should be set into the wind as doves land into the breeze.