Shooting Mystery is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Dove Hunting for Beginners: Shoot Like a Pro in 5 Easy Steps

Dove Hunting For Beginners: Shoot Like a Pro in 5 Easy Steps

Up for a night roost of hunting doves? We’ve prepared some tips and tricks to help you out with the gear, grain crops, and the shooting itself!

Join us in this journey of dove hunting for beginners! Migratory birds can be tricky, so you’ll need some tips for a successful hunt.

As Katniss Everdeen would’ve said, “May the odds be ever in your favor.” Let the hunting games begin!

A Step-by-Step Guide to Dove Hunting

Step 1: Find the Perfect Spot

Step 1

The first step to making the perfect shot when you’re dove hunting is finding your sweet areas and comfortable range.

You want to be at a range of at least 25-30 yards away from your target game bird.

This distance is helpful for you to achieve the following:

  • The birds WILL NOT notice you
  • You have a GOOD GAUGE of your target

As a beginner, you’ll want space for you and your shoulders to move around!

Use fewer shotgun shells and lighter loads to prevent your shoulders from flinching and bruising.

Step 2: Wait for the Doves

Step 2

This next step requires some patience and peace of mind. Wait for the birds to come to you.

Don’t come to them, no matter how tempting! When these doves spot you, they’re going to fly away. Flying doves are harder to target.

On that note, what you should do is BE ON STANDBY while the birds approach your target range. If you’re fast, you’ll be able to shoot around 2-3 birds before they’re out of your way.

As new dove hunters without experience, you’re going to need some practice. You can also opt to wear a bird vest for a better experience.

But DON’T FRET! You’ll get your hunts as long as you continue following the steps we’ve laid out and stay patient when dealing with these migratory birds.

Step 3: Eye on the Gun

Step 3

Finally, the step we’ve all been waiting for in this extreme sport: HUNTING and SHOOTING!

When you’re shooting, you want to make sure your eye is well on the target. (Plus, it won’t hurt to have your hunting license ready, just in case.)

Keep in mind these steps when you’re about to shoot:

  • Head on the stock
  • Set on the target
  • Eye on the gun
  • Take a deep breath
  • Pull the trigger in one smooth movement.

Step 4: Practice Makes Perfect

Step 4

It’ll take a while before you’re able to master dove hunting, but PRACTICE WILL HELP.

Visit shooting ranges, and practice your aim.

Once you’ve mastered the art of shooting, you’ll be saving yourself tons of shotgun shells and time!

You might even buy yourself some more time to hunt (or save) more birds.

Keep in mind that even just a little bit of effort every day to get you through a long way, so blast the doves!

Step 5: Extra Shots

Step 5

Don’t forget to bring in EXTRA SHOTS!

Dove hunters usually need about 3-4 shots before they’re successful at hunting one bird.

You don’t really want to miss that dove just because you didn’t bring enough shots?

On the other hand, maybe you could bring fewer shots to lessen the damage you’re making to the poor birds themselves.

Wink, wink.

Essentials in Dove Hunting: Everything You Need to Know


Assuming that our last paragraph didn’t convince you, here are the basics you need to succeed at this sport!

Habitat and Behavior

You can’t successfully dove hunt if you don’t know where the doves are in the first place.

Don’t worry! We’ll guide you throughout the hunting process so that you can have a smooth sailing session at the field.

Here’s the information you have to pay attention to!

How to Attract Doves to Your Dove Hunting Spot: Food

Doves are animals of habit; they’ll behave almost completely the same in terms of activity patterns.

These birds mostly like these types of food:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Corn
  • Other grains and weeds

Bringing these to the hunting area or feeding sites is one of the best strategies for the doves to come closer. You’ll have more luck with close-range shooting.

What These Doves Do with Their Food

One of the things beginner dove hunters don’t realize is that these birds CAN’T actually digest hard seeds.

Chewing down on grit gravel helps them digest these hard foods better.

That’s why they also tend to be at places such as gravel quarries and sand bars!

Where to Locate the Doves

These birds usually like to feed on the ground. They DON’T have the strongest legs, so they like to use open fields as their feeding area.

On the other hand, if you want to hunt for a lot, you’ll see them in a watering hole or stream banks.

Perhaps you could give them a peaceful and friendly visit and spot them drink from muddy ponds, mud holes, seeps, and water holes!


You can scout the said areas above or begin this challenge by bringing them to your own fields of hunt area!

Choosing Your Weapon for Dove Hunting: Tips and Tricks

Choosing Your Weapon

Doves are quick animals to hunt, so one of the best dove hunting tips is that you need to be ALERT and MINDFUL all the time.

The thrill, challenge, and fun factors are limitless. To effectively hunt these doves, you’re going to need the right gun to do the job.

Gun Basics

The best all-around shotgun for dove hunting is a 12, 16, or 20 gauge autoloader.

You could also choose a gun with double barrels, pumps, and a screw-in choke tube. This will ensure that you’re able to shoot 3 bullets in a short span of time.

Shot Sizes

Doves are small birds, which increases the limit at which they’re challenging.

Again, they aren’t even big enough to have sufficient food. But carry on, we guess.

A few are enough to knock down a dove, and that’s great for you because a smaller shot size equals more pellets.

Here are some shot sizes that we highly recommend when hunting:

  • 7.5
  • 8
  • 9

Pellet Count

Here’s the pellet count of the many types of guns:

  • 8-ounce gun: 410 pellets
  • 6-ounce gun: 224 pellets

Beginners should purely evaluate each one to their taste and efficiency, as there doesn’t seem to be so much of a pattern!

Attract the Doves: Decoys

Decoys are the best way to attract these doves for hunting!

You could purchase stationary decoys such as plastic birds or inflatable birds perched on dead trees.

This way, the doves you’re targeting will be attracted to their own people.

How to Place the Dove Decoys

Place at least a dozen dove decoys at different positions to trap groups of doves in one place.

Don’t place them too far from your field of sight.

You could also put them on top of dead branches of trees and power lines! But just make sure to be smart about the placement so that the power lines don’t get tangled.

The bird species shouldn’t matter all that much because you can apply these decoys to ALL TYPES.

Dove Hunting Tips for the Best Way to Mimic Birds

Placing battery-powered decoys with moving wings is the best way to mimic these birds!

By having them on water holes and stream banks, the rest of the dove species should feel comfortable about sitting with them at the same time.

They’ll feel safe to land around the water, and you’ll be able to find the perfect shot!

Wink, wink.

More Tips for Successful Dove Hunting Shots

More Tips

Now that we’ve given you the basics of dove hunting, the following content will be focusing on tips to make your bird shotgun experience better!

You could start by putting a limit on your bird hunts.

Moving on, here are the tips we’ve compiled!

Hiding from the Doves: What to Wear When Dove Hunting

First off, knowing what to wear in your dove hunt is extremely important. Just because these doves are animals of habit doesn’t mean they’re not alarmed by stimuli.


That said, drab color patterns are your best bet when you’re dove hunting!

  • Wear a camo shirt with lots of green and brown colors to blend in.
  • AVOID bright colors because doves can spot these immediately.

Blaze Orange

If you happen to be wearing blaze orange for safety purposes, you’ll want to take that gear off once you’ve arrived at your bird hunting field.

Summary: What to Wear When Dove Hunting

  • A full choke is seldom a need when you’re dove hunting. But of course, there’s still no harm in using a good choke for duck hunting and dove hunting.
  • Wear camo or drab clothing
  • Blaze orange is usually fit for hunting in general. Just make sure to be wary of its forms when you’re dove hunting.

Stop Making Unnecessary Movements When Dove Hunting

If you’re concealing yourself with your clothes but consistently fidgeting or making unnecessary movement, then what’s the point of camouflage in the first place?

Unnecessary movements will alert them of a range of danger, and you don’t want that.

When a bird is in your field of range, BE STILL and CLEAR YOUR MIND.

Dove hunting is all about staying FOCUSED and keeping your presence unknown to these game birds for as long as possible.

Keep Your Focus on One Dove

You read that right. For those dove hunters who live in a country that approves of hunting, stick to 1 bird at a time.

Multitasking can result in catching NOTHING. By focusing and switching between doves all at the same time, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.

Different Species

When you’re a beginner at hunting, one of the most overwhelming things for you would probably be seeing the huge amount of birds up in the sky.

You’ll find it difficult to lead yourself to only see the doves, but the key to this is to focus on just 1 target in the field!

Keep Track of Your Target

This step comes after you’ve already shot the bird down.

Watch the bird once it’s down. Try to get a lead of where it landed, and follow that while marking your path in the fields.

The LESS TIME you spend looking for the victim you’ve successfully shot, the MORE VICTIMS you’ll find laying on the ground areas in your hands.


Patience is a virtue wherever you are. And it’s no different in dove hunting.

Anyway, being patient when you’re dove hunting is important. You need to realize that you’re going to make many mistakes at the start.

Don’t feel discouraged because most dove hunters and beginners have gone through that phase.

More opportunities are waiting for you in the field areas, and the chances of getting a lead increase during dove season (and hunting season, in general)!

Avoid Being Spotted

Before setting your decoys at your selected areas around the trees, make sure to be in a position where the doves WON’T spot you.

Make sure to be in a position in the fields where the sun is facing your backside, too.

The Extras: Dove Hunting 101

The Extras

Finally, some of the extras you could just consider.

Hunting with Friends

Hunting is the PERFECT OPPORTUNITY to bond with the people close to you.

When you’re hunting with friends or family for whatever reason, make sure you and your fellow dove hunters are positioned at least 100 yards away from each other.

Doing so ensures that doves won’t see you guys move in flocks, obviously waiting to hunt them down.

Dove Call

A dove call is one of the best ways you could train your game for the hunting season.

Bring it with you, use it in the open, and attract basically a whole dove field. By doing so, you’re improving your chances at multiple shots!

If you’re interested, we have a guide on How to Blow an Effective Duck Call which can also be used for other bird species.



Now that we’ve given you tips, we hope you enjoy dove season! Nothing should stand in your way as long as you follow the steps accurately.

However, don’t forget to do it ethically. If some areas in the United States require you to have a license, you should comply with your state laws by all means. 

Other than that, bookmark this guide to dove hunting, and HAVE FUN!



June 14, 2022 - Made minor updates to content
September 9, 2021 - Reviewed and updated article links

About the author