George Block Column
September ushers in dove hunting season
We might hunt varmints year-round and turkey in the spring, but September ushers in the real hunting season.
I know there are many fans of deer hunting, and that won’t enter the scene for a while. September’s hunting is limited to shooting passing doves or calling resident geese to a decoy spread.
It’s been said more shotgun ammunition is expended at doves than any other game. With pheasants becoming a stocked hunt like trout and our state bird, the grouse, becoming non-existent in Washington and Greene counties, I can understand that.
When looking for doves, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, they love what I call stubble fields. I know one farm in western Washington County that has fantastic alfalfa fields. Hunt there and you will find a few doves.
Next to that field are ones covered with briers, weeds and stubble. They look like a wasteland, but the weeds and such bear seeds, which, in turn, attract doves.
In the evening, when the doves are going to roost, they fly to water for a drink beforehand. Set up between the water and roost, and activity is all but guaranteed.
While there might be a handful of hunters who jump doves, the traditional way is to pass shoot them. When pass shooting, remember the birds see well, so a bit of cover is in order.
Another tip for a beginner is these birds fly very fast and can be past the shooter before he can identify them.
A good way to beat that problem is to learn their wing beat and know what bird is approaching before they are in range. It’s really not difficult to do.
What shotgun and what shot size should you use? Actually, almost any shotgun will do, but I prefer a light over-and-under or side-by-side in the 20 gauge.
The reason for this is that doubles swing better than a longer pump action or auto-loader.
But in most instances, dove hunters use whatever they have, be it a 20 or 12 gauge. Doves might be hard to hit, but once hit, they don’t go anywhere.
If I had my choice of shot size, I would take a low-brass shell with a 7 1/2-size shot. My second choice would be 8s.
But I would wager that most doves are downed with 6-sized shot, since that’s what most people have lying around the house.
• Everyone is asking me about the new .17 caliber super-rimfire magnum coming from Winchester.
A long ways back, Remington made a 5 mm rimfire that fell on its ear. The performance was good and the rifles were made well, but the rifle and cartridge were duds.
The problem was the rifle and ammo were ahead of their time. Today, we have more than one .17 rimfire on the market, and they all seem to sell well.
Winchester and Savage are offering another that outperform the others.
There is no magic. The extra speed is gained by increasing pressure. This is not the old rimfire casing, but one that is beefed up to handle a higher working pressure.
Moving a 20-grain bullet at 3,000 feet per second, this is one hot rimfire and one that should sell well.
For starters, Winchester makes the amnmo and Savage makes the rifle.
The 5mm fell on its face, but the time seems right for rimfires. It’s all a matter of timing.
George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.