Upcoming dove season has ‘doveaholics’ excited

Putting a little effort into preseason scouting can result in some great dove shooting come opening day. (Photo by Bobby Cleveland)

Visit fields before the season, determine a plan of attack

Bacon-wrapped dove anyone?

Mention dove season to Clyde Townsend of Madison, and his thoughts turn to lighting the coals, wrapping tender, red-meated dove breasts in bacon with a slice of jalapeno in between, cooking until the bacon is crisp and the dove medium rare and taking a big ol’ bite.

“Ain’t nothing better,” said Townsend, who is, as he calls it, “a bonafide, certified, doveaholic.” If the season is open, Townsend, a retired market analyst, is usually somewhere in the middle of a grain field, gun in hand, waiting on the next dove to fly past.

“This year, I’m excited about the first season,” he said. “It’s open from Labor Day weekend until Oct. 6, and buddy, that’s a lot of hunting time for me. The opportunity is so great that I kept my usual dove-club membership going and joined two more, just to have enough places to hunt. I may not hunt every day, but I bet I average at least five or maybe six days each week.”

Tasty and timely! Bacon-wrapped dove breasts on the grill, great with or without a slice of jalapeno in the middle. (Photo by Bobby Cleveland)

The way Townsend figures it, he’ll hunt at least 25 days out of 31 in the first North Zone season. Now, if he averages 10 birds a day — “I bet I get the limit (15) near-about every day” — he’ll have 250 breasts put up by Oct. 6, minus the ones he’ll have already eaten.

Have a plan

Townsend’s secret to success is simple: “If you’re waiting until opening day or the day of any hunt to choose a place to sit, you are way too late,” he said. “Scouting each field and learning the approach and exit routes that the most birds are using is something you need to do from mid-August to the end of the season.

“I think doves are creatures of habit, in that what they do and get away with one day is what they will continue to do. If there’s a ditch or a tree line or even a point that sticks into the field, that’s the likely corridor they will relate to coming and going.

“Each field will have several routes, and birds will use them all, but the key is finding the ones that the most birds are using every day. And you don’t ever quit learning about that, especially after the shooting starts. Seeing how birds react to shots being fired, where they immediately turn and speed toward, that’s something you need to be watching for, so the next time you hunt that field, you can be in that place or have a friend standing there to shoot and turn the birds.”

Be aware of others

Townsend is not beyond using other hunters’ behavior to dictate where he might hunt, or even move, during an afternoon.

“A lot of times, when a field is full of hunters, there will be one or two yokels out there who have no clue what to do,” he said. “They won’t be hidden, or they won’t be still. Those guys will flare birds, and if I see them doing it often enough, that it is turning birds in one direction to avoid danger, I’ll move to cut off their escape route.”

Townsend’s other tip is simple.

“Make sure you get every pellet out of a breast,” he said, grinning. “These things are too good to mess up by chomping down a piece of lead.”

Don’t forget tax-free holiday

Mississippi hunters have a great opportunity for savings for the entire 2020-21 hunting season during the Magnolia State’s annual Second Amendment Tax-Free Holiday, set for Aug. 28-30.

For three days, firearms and ammunition, as well as archery equipment, can be purchased without additional sales tax added. Most locally owned sporting good shops that cater to hunters offer special deals to further savings. Most accessories, like clothing, are not included.

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Bobby Cleveland
About Bobby Cleveland 1291 Articles
Bobby Cleveland has covered sports in Mississippi for over 40 years. A native of Hattiesburg and graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Cleveland lives on Ross Barnett Reservoir near Jackson with his wife Pam.

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