Dove Hunting photo

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.