Dove Hunting Tips from the Dovenator

Scott Breeze, 47, an orthopedic surgeon from the Houston area, bills himself as "the Dovenator," and with good reason. Breeze set the world record by shooting 15,208 doves in one day with 16,575 shots in Argentina on Nov. 7, 2010. He averaged something like 18 doves a minute for 14 hours from sunup to sundown. Breeze estimates around 1.5 million doves flew past him in shotgun range that day.

Personally, I have shot doves in Argentina only a couple of afternoons. My biggest bag was about 1/100 of Breeze's record and that was enough dove killing for me, but we are all different. There is no bag limit on eared doves, which are considered an agricultural pest. The birds don't go to waste. I can tell you first hand that when you leave the dove field at the end of the day there are hungry people waiting for a share of the birds. They get most, but you get to enjoy a dove barbecue at the lodge, too. And, despite the best efforts of foreign wingshooters, dove numbers keep growing in Argentina.

You may not want to break the record but you may well want to hunt in South America someday. Breeze's mark was an incredible feat of shotgunning endurance and when the Dovenator gives high volume shooting advice, you should listen.

Guns: Breeze set his record with four Winchester Super X3 20 gauge semiautos. He had two loaders working and they used three guns with a fourth as a backup. Breeze had tried other brands of guns and been frustrated by failures to fire with the Argentine RD or Fiocchi ammo that is not as reliable as the stuff we get in the U.S. Winchester did supply him the guns, but that doesn't change the fact that they worked very well indeed for him, as his record attests. Being 20 gauge gas guns they did not kick much, and just as important, they were light.

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Pre-trip training:** Breeze told me he actually doesn't shoot many clay targets at home in Texas. What he did was buy an 8-pound dumbbell and work out with it for several months before the trip. "I would keep it with me and mostly pass it back and forth from one hand to the other, or hold it in positions that simulated shooting," he said. "Lifting even a light shotgun over 3,000 times in a day is much more fatiguing than you think it will be. Working with the weights really helped."

Protective gear: Besides eye and ear protection, Breeze wore a shoulder recoil pad and put a padded neoprene sleeve on the stocks of his guns. He says white athletic tape is even better than gloves for protecting your fingers. You should tape your trigger finger and tape in between the fingers of your front hand because they rub together under recoil. Wear gloves over the tape.He says shoulder pain is not as bad as shoulder blistering. "I have learned to wear the softest cotton shirts only," he says. "Otherwise when you mount the gun the fibers in your shirt rub the skin like sandpaper."

Doventator's advice: "I see newcomers down there and they get excited because you can't imagine the number of birds. It's a river of doves, not that you can shoot in the air and knock them down randomly but they keep coming. First timers get excited and hurry and shoot too fast. They mismount guns and shoot anyway and get bruises all the way out onto their arms. I tell them 'Settle down. The birds won't stop flying.'"

Breeze says that if you start to feel any irritation, stop and take care of it.

"If your trigger finger is bothering you you're going to get a blister. Stop and tape it up or you'll have that blister for the whole trip," he said.