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North Dakota dove hunting was great

Dove hunting was great in North Dakota over Labor Day weekend. Luckily, a buddy and I found a harvested canola field to hunt. We drove around quite a bit, and it was the only one we could find in about a 30 mile radius. I doubt we would have had such great shooting without that field. The birds were so hot to get into the field that we hunted it parts of three days to great effect.

The field’s landowner is a big hunter and he was glad to let us shoot over the field. We harvested 70 birds (the daily limit is 15/person, 30/person possession limit). We ate our first day’s take that night (14 birds in two hours) simmered stove top in oil and soy sauce – very good.

Decoys help bring doves closer and slows them up, both factors which help hitting these speedy, acrobatic game birds.

On the third day, the birds weren’t in the field that morning, so we left. We never found a better place to shoot. But, when we came back in the evening, the doves were all over the field once again. We had one windy day, so trying to walk them up and shoot was impossible because of their incredibly fast take off. One calm day, we are able to get on them with the gun while jump shooting.

Yet, we shot most our birds from a stationary location in an area where they were coming in to feed or passing by. I also set out some decoys on bare patches so they were visible. I bagged several doves coming in to land and some flying over slow for a look at the ‘coys. My springer, Hunter, was a big help retrieving doves since the canola stubble/weeds were high and thick enough to conceal the diminutive, gray-colored birds. I also learned that Hunter retrieves much better if I don’t crowd him on the retrieve and just call “fetch” while walked back to the blind. If I crowd him too much, he hangs back. My late springer, Wolf, reacted the same, but not quite as much as Hunter.

Weather-wise, we had two low 40-degree nights, but the birds hung around anyway. Doves are notorious for bugging out in such cool air. During the hunt, I also spotted some sharptails, but no pheasants. We were northeast of the capitol Bismarck.

We did spot a few other concentrations of doves, but one was over a tall weedy field – hard to hunt and hard to find downed birds. I also noticed higher water, more than last year – great news for NoDak waterfowlers such as myself. Incredibly, a stretch of Interstate-94 near Medina was diked against a large flooding lake. Both sides of the highway were being raised some 10-15 feet!

For pheasant hunters, dove hunting is a great way to work out the bugs in your gear, shooting and dog. How was your dove hunt?

The Nomad blog is written by Mark Herwig, Editor of the Pheasants Forever Journal. Email Mark at MHerwig@pheasantsforever.org.

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2 Responses to “North Dakota dove hunting was great”

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  1. Mitch Lee says:

    We had a great opener in the St. Louis Area. We had a what I’d have to call the perfect field. About 100 acres beside the Mississippi River levy. Cut corn with strips of sunflowers – the best they’ve been in years, nearby treeline and powerlines overhead. It was pretty steady and fast all day with limits of 15 by all who could shoot well. I managed 16, since one was a bonus bird, a eurasion collard dove. It was brutally hot, over 100, too hot for a dog. One hunter did bring a black lab, which, despite water, dousing with water, and the limited shade offered by standing corn, suffered from heat exhaustion.

    Now that things have quieted down and temps have dropped, I may go back over to the field and take my Brittany to try to jump shoot some doves. She’ll make it easier move the birds and find the ones I hit.

  2. Mark Herwig says:

    Mitch, sounds like you really got into them. Keep your eyes on the skies because a cold front is hitting here in Minnesota tonight. We’ll be close to 90 today, but tomorrow’s highs will be in the 60 and lows mid-week in the 30s. We have frost warnings here in central Minnesota, but in northern Minnesota there’s hard freeze warnings. What’s left of our upper midwest doves will be in your neighborhood by weekend.

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