March 29, 2011
Wanted: Dove Hunting Advice
By Phil Bourjaily
As Chad Love reported earlier, my home state of Iowa has finally joined the other 80 percent of states where mourning doves are classed as gamebirds. Those of you living in states where dove hunting is a long-standing tradition have no idea how emotional a debate over dove hunting can get. The anti-dove hunters trot out the usual arguments, most often that hunters shoot doves only for target practice and don’t eat them. Yet, when I wrote a letter to our local paper mentioning a couple of ways I like to cook doves (shot legally in other states and countries), the same anti-dove hunters who say we don’t eat doves were repelled at the idea anyone would eat doves. You can’t win with these people – but, you can beat them, and we finally have. Barring unforeseen complications, Iowa will open its first dove season since 1918 this September. It’s about time.
A lot of our hunters are excited, but they have no idea what to do, what gun to buy, what kind of fields to plant, or anything else. The outdoors message boards are full of posts like “should I buy a 28 or a .410 for doves?”
Me, I will be opening dove season with a 12 gauge gas semiauto, perhaps like the Browning Maxus in the picture. It will have a 28-inch barrel, an IC choke and I will bring a few boxes of 1 ounce steel 7s (the wildlife area on which I will likely hunt is non-toxic only). Personally, I find pumping a slide action is distracting for dove hunting, and O/Us are always broken open at exactly the moment another dove flies by. So, I shoot semiautos. I shoot 12s because I shoot 12s at everything, although a 20 gauge semiauto makes a great dove gun, too. But, that’s just my opinion. What I am interested in is your opinion.
This is your chance to give dove hunting advice to a bunch of eager Iowan noobs. Let us know what we’re in for on September 1 and what we can do to have a good hunt.