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Shotgun Tips: Doves in the Wind

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October 15, 2012

Shotgun Tips: Doves in the Wind

By Phil Bourjaily

The last two days in the dove field have been windy, as in 25-30 mph windy. The conditions have made shooting a real challenge, and the shooting and the low gray skies remind me of a duck hunting in a cold, ducky gale. Wind becomes a big problem when the dove is flying downwind. Doves fly very fast with a high wind under their tails. You could express that mathematically as: Dove+wind= 3 shots

Of course, wind is no problem to deal with when a dove is fighting its way straight upwind to try to land with a decoy in front of you. Then you shoot right at it as it hangs in the air.

However, if you take a crossing shot at a dove going into the wind, you still have to lead it even if it seems to be flying 2 mph and you are tempted to shoot right at it. Wind does move shot patterns, but it tends to move the entire pattern rather than disrupting it. Even a 10 mph crosswind can move a pattern 7-8 inches or more at 40 yards. Remember, though that a bird flying into a crosswind is sideslipping.

Think too much about the wind and it will ruin your shooting. The best advice I can give is, ignore the wind and shoot. The answer to challenging shotgunning conditions is harder focus on the target. The more clearly you see the bird, the better the information your subconscious mind receives. It can sort out all the details of wind, target speed and lead in an instant if you don’t override it with conscious thought and aiming.

The one allowance I do make in shooting style for wind is on the trap field: if the wind is at my back I’ll hold my gun a little lower because the targets fly low with a tailwind and it’s easy to lose them behind your gun as they sneak out of the house.

What I think about on a windy day in the field is what shots I will take. I’ll let incomers come as close as possible because I know that if I need to shoot again the bird can instantly put an extra 15 yards between the two of us as it flares back with the wind before I can shoot again. If a bird is screaming downwind I’ll shoot if it’s close. Otherwise, I’ll save myself three shells and let it go.

Comments (11)

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from Nathan Ryver wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

birds seem to be getting fewer and fewer in my part of Kentucky...at least the sunflower and foxtail field I've been hunting. And the birds I have seen have been very adept at zigging when I believe them to be zagging.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Like your tips, and the first thought I had was to choose your targets more carefully. A long range bird that is changing direction all the time with the aid of the wind is problably not the choice of target to shoot at. Your decision of what to shoot at is a biggie. And I sure do not like sustained lead technique on long range shots with the wind blowing hard.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

why not just stay home on those windy days, snuggle up with your wife or girlfriend in front of a nice fire, and have a few belts of Crown Royal?

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

deadeye..sounds like a little woman in your life is controlling your outdoor activities to me.

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from scratchgolf72 wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

agreed clinchknot LOL!

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from Anhinga wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Phil, I agree, but on a windy, dove or duck day where longer shots may be the norm, a longer barreled shotgun is an asset for me. I've had great sport pass shooting late season, migrating doves as 'blue northers' move across north Texas with a couple of us taking turns and ribbing each other with each missed shot. No limit shoots here, just a few 'high-hard ones' earned with numerous shots fired.

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from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

And you would be right, but not for the reasons that you think. Before you make a comment maybe you should know all of the facts. I would not stoop so low as to make a comment about someone I do no Know

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Deadeye..Been there tooooo many times. Got plans to hit the river, or the fields with a buddy...then I get a call not long before we are scheduled to go. Sorry, can't make it, my wife says we have to blah-blah-blah. I quit even asking some guys because of it.

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from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

MY WIFE HAS CANCER

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from swoolley wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

"Think too much about the wind and it will ruin your shooting...." I recall the movie Bull Durham, in which there is an excellent rookie pitcher who begins to think too much about his technique, and goes downhill. He is advised to concentrate on 'breathing through his eyelids'; he does and his pitching improves. That is what I tell my dove hunting buddy when he wants to analyze why he isn't hitting. This past weekend I couldn't hit 'em with my go-to 20ga, in a 20 mph wind. O/U and switched to my 45 yr old 870, thats all it took to go from 3 birds per box to 8 birds per box. Can't explain why, but it worked.

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from FSU70 wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

One of the great challenges of dove hunting is they are not an easy target and are a lot of fun to hunt. Hunting the late season, which is often windy, especially in January just adds to the challenge. Decoys certainly bring the birds in closer and the fact that this time of year your shooting the smart birds that survived September means they are that much more of a challenge. I don't often get a limit in the late season but I'm proud of every bird I can knock down and enjoy the late season as much if not more than the early season. Because of the wind and the fact these birds come in high, dive in tight to the feeding area and are very leery of any movement, I up gun from my 20 gage O/U to my 12 gage O/U. Looking forward to November 17th.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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from Nathan Ryver wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

birds seem to be getting fewer and fewer in my part of Kentucky...at least the sunflower and foxtail field I've been hunting. And the birds I have seen have been very adept at zigging when I believe them to be zagging.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

deadeye..sounds like a little woman in your life is controlling your outdoor activities to me.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from scratchgolf72 wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

agreed clinchknot LOL!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Anhinga wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Phil, I agree, but on a windy, dove or duck day where longer shots may be the norm, a longer barreled shotgun is an asset for me. I've had great sport pass shooting late season, migrating doves as 'blue northers' move across north Texas with a couple of us taking turns and ribbing each other with each missed shot. No limit shoots here, just a few 'high-hard ones' earned with numerous shots fired.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

And you would be right, but not for the reasons that you think. Before you make a comment maybe you should know all of the facts. I would not stoop so low as to make a comment about someone I do no Know

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Deadeye..Been there tooooo many times. Got plans to hit the river, or the fields with a buddy...then I get a call not long before we are scheduled to go. Sorry, can't make it, my wife says we have to blah-blah-blah. I quit even asking some guys because of it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

MY WIFE HAS CANCER

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from swoolley wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

"Think too much about the wind and it will ruin your shooting...." I recall the movie Bull Durham, in which there is an excellent rookie pitcher who begins to think too much about his technique, and goes downhill. He is advised to concentrate on 'breathing through his eyelids'; he does and his pitching improves. That is what I tell my dove hunting buddy when he wants to analyze why he isn't hitting. This past weekend I couldn't hit 'em with my go-to 20ga, in a 20 mph wind. O/U and switched to my 45 yr old 870, thats all it took to go from 3 birds per box to 8 birds per box. Can't explain why, but it worked.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FSU70 wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

One of the great challenges of dove hunting is they are not an easy target and are a lot of fun to hunt. Hunting the late season, which is often windy, especially in January just adds to the challenge. Decoys certainly bring the birds in closer and the fact that this time of year your shooting the smart birds that survived September means they are that much more of a challenge. I don't often get a limit in the late season but I'm proud of every bird I can knock down and enjoy the late season as much if not more than the early season. Because of the wind and the fact these birds come in high, dive in tight to the feeding area and are very leery of any movement, I up gun from my 20 gage O/U to my 12 gage O/U. Looking forward to November 17th.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Like your tips, and the first thought I had was to choose your targets more carefully. A long range bird that is changing direction all the time with the aid of the wind is problably not the choice of target to shoot at. Your decision of what to shoot at is a biggie. And I sure do not like sustained lead technique on long range shots with the wind blowing hard.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

why not just stay home on those windy days, snuggle up with your wife or girlfriend in front of a nice fire, and have a few belts of Crown Royal?

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

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