Before going dove hunting this year, check out these 15 tips on how to mind your manners on the field! And don’t forget to purchase your Georgia Migratory Bird Stamp at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com.
- Mindfulness – The most important key to a successful dove hunt, for yourself and your neighbors on the field, is to be mindful of your surroundings. Be aware of gun safety, what your hunting party is doing and what the hunters around you are doing, even in all of the excitement. Things can happen quickly. Everyone is looking for birds and where birds went down. Keeping up your situational awareness will make for a better hunt for you and everyone around you.
- “Low Bird” – If you hear someone call, “low bird,” DON’T SHOOT! We all know what it sounds like, but it actually means that the bird is too low for a safe shot.
- Spacing – Establish with the hunters on either side of you who is shooting where, and give your fellow hunters their space. You don’t want to shoot at the same birds. Be aware of your zone of fire. You don’t have 180 degrees of fire if you have people on either side of you.
- Fields – Some public lands have more than one dove field. Dove fields will be marked on maps. If one field is crowded, try another.
- Dogs (Yours) – If you brought a dog to a dove shoot, be mindful of your dog, where they are and what birds they pick up. Some dogs are better on a leash. Dogs can’t tell which bird is which, so if your dog picks up another hunter’s bird, please return the bird to the hunter who shot it. Let them know, “Hey, my dog got your bird,” and return it to them.
- Dogs (Theirs) – Be mindful of any dog that might be out in the field so your shots are careful.
- Trash/Spent Shells – Clean up behind you. Be sure to pick up your trash and spent shotgun shells.
- Gun Safety – Know what’s behind where you’re shooting, and know where your shot will fall. Remember what you learned in hunter safety. Shotguns can still cause terrible accidents. You may be hunting near a lot of people, so muzzle control is key.
- Equipment/Structures – Be aware of equipment, buildings or irrigation structures near a field so you can avoid damaging them, especially if someone was kind enough to let you hunt on their property.
- ATVs – Ask yourself if you’re primarily hunting, or if you’re primarily riding on an ATV. Try to keep vehicles hidden, and be courteous to other hunters. Don’t drive an ATV through the middle of a shoot!
- Hunter Orange – Birds can see color. If you’re hunting near someone else and wear hunter orange in the field, you could scare the birds away for both of you.
- Kids – Dove hunts are a great opportunity to teach kids how to hunt. It’s a great situation where the adults can keep track of what’s going on. If there are kids on the hunt, even if they’re not in your group, go ahead and let them go and have fun. If a kid wants to pick what you thought was a good spot, let them, even if you wanted it. Let the kids run out on the field to pick up their birds first. Let it be a good, fun day for everyone.
- Birds – If the birds are flying in thick, you might want to continue shooting before heading out into the fields to pick up your birds.
- Water — September dove hunting is HOT in Georgia! Bring plenty of water so you are comfortable and well-hydrated in the field. If you brought a dog, they can get overheated on dove fields, so be sure to bring water for your four-legged hunting buddy, too.
- Last, but by no means least: Close the gate behind you – If you’re allowed to hunt on someone’s property, honor the requests they make. Go only where you have permission to go. Be respectful of what you have permission to do and where you’re supposed to be. Be respectful of the property and the person who is giving you permission to be there.