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Dabbling with Dove Decoys

This blog was originally posted on August 31, 2009 but it has been updated with new information. 

I like to dabble with dove decoys. That’s really all I do, it seems. Bagging doves for the grill during Nebraska’s popular dove hunting season (which opens on Sept. 1) is, well, just a bonus actually. Normally, I run out of shells before even getting close to reaching my daily bag limit during the season. I get those erratic, fast-flying doves close enough for shots, but connecting with and downing one is a whole different matter with me.

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So, I feel credible to at least offer you some tips to draw the birds within shooting range using decoys. The shooting thing is up to the shotgun experts. 

That said, here we go. Okay, so you know your habitat – you have doves.  You pretty much know the patterns the birds are flying. You’ve developed a game plan for safety with your hunting partners. But you just can’t quite get those darned doves close enough for shots, hmm.

Decoys, have any? Use any? You should. Like hunting with decoys for any game, dove decoys serve as attractants and divert the attention of the birds away from you! Let me tell you that dove decoys, even a few of them, placed near your shooting spot can get birds to fly at close range. What kind of dove decoys work best? I have used them all with success – commercially bought shells & full bodies, robos, mojos, rotary machines, Dick Turpin-crafted wooden ones and I’ve even successfully used silhouettes made out of cardboard, believe it or not.

From Keith Sutton of Alexander, Arkansas, one of the top outdoor writers and veteran dove hunters in the nation, I have learned that it is important to place decoys in key locations near your hunting spot. First, look for an area of open or bare ground where the birds like to eat and put some decoys there.

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Second, set several decoys along the edge of a watering hole that the doves are frequenting. Third, a few decoys also should be placed on the top strand of a nearby fence about a foot apart. This is a perfect setting for motion decoys.

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Fourth, some tree decoys should also be put up as high as possible back from the tips of limber branches. And finally, Sutton says don’t make the common mistake of not facing all of your decoys into the wind as doves take off and land into the wind.

I’ll tell you one of the cool things about using dove decoys is the various other wildlife you attract with them. Watch this hawk chase the dove decoys attached to a rotary machine on a hunt several years ago in eastern Nebraska.

Let’s cover a little bit on safety; it should not be overlooked when putting out dove decoys. Dove hunters are strongly advised to wear a blaze orange cap for safety purposes in order to be seen by other hunters in the field when doing that, especially on public land.

For dove hunting in Nebraska, make sure you have a current hunting permit, habitat stamp and H.I.P. number as well as a plug in your shotgun – restricting it to holding no more than three shells. Remember, if you shoot banded doves, please report the information on those birds. Get full regulation information on hunting doves and other game species here.

Have a great dove hunt, and oh yeah, don’t forget the dekes (decoys)!

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About greg wagner

A native of Gretna, NE, a graduate of Gretna High School and Bellevue University, Greg Wagner currently serves as the Public Information Officer and Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Service Center in Omaha. On a weekly basis, Wagner can be heard on a number of radio stations, seen on local television in Omaha, and on social media sites, creatively conveying natural resource conservation messages as well as promoting outdoor activities and destinations in Nebraska. Wagner, whose career at Game and Parks began in 1979, walks, talks, lives, breathes and blogs about Nebraska’s outdoors. He grew up in rural Gretna, building forts in the woods, hunting, fishing, collecting leaves, and generally thriving on constant outdoor activity. One of the primary goals of his blog is to get people, especially young ones, to have fun and spend time outside!

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