Iowa Dove Season Opens After 93 Years

Iowa Dove Opener

Here are words I never thought I would write: yesterday Iowa celebrated the opening dove season. After years of legislative wrangling, we Iowans finally get to hunt doves.

I went, and had a great morning hunt. I hope the rest of you did, too, wherever you hunt. Here are a few observations from the day:

Plot Fail = Dove Success

I hunted a dove field on our local wildlife area. Because the season passed at the last minute our DNR rushed to put in sunflower plots. Not all the hasty plantings were successful. I chose the one that failed and produced a bumper crop of ragweed instead. My thinking was, it wouldn't attract any hunters, but doves would probably eat ragweed seeds as happily as they eat sunflowers. And, based on yesterday's hunt, they do.

And, as I thought, the crowds were elsewhere. Only one other person shared my field. He had to go to work at 7:30 leaving me to peck away at the doves on my own all morning. I have hunted crowded public dove fields before, in Illinois, and I know what it's like to have to root for a bird to get by everyone else so you can kill it. I liked this better.

Getting My Mojo Working

After I had shot some doves and the sun came up high enough to shine on the field, I stuck my Mojo teal in the dirt to see what would happen. Immediately the doves that had been flying over the field started landing with the decoy. Having already made several more difficult shots, I proceeded to empty my gun at the first dove hanging over the decoy and watched it fly away untouched.

My impression of the spinner - and those of you who have used them more than I have can tell me if I'm right - is that they work best on doves that want to land. That is, if a dove is going to light in the field anyway, it will land with the decoy. And, it will make its approach into the wind, making the shots both easier and more predictable.

Bonus Band

The third dove I shot yesterday was banded, which made my inaugural Iowa dove hunt even more special. I reported the band online and found that the dove was ancient by dove standards. It had been banded on the same wildlife area in 2008 as an adult bird, meaning it was at least four years old.

So that was my dove opener. How was yours?