Editor’s Note: I was fortunate to meet former Olympian and Gold Medalist shooter, the late Tony Rosetti, 20 years ago. Rosetti had the reputation in years past as one of the best shots ever and had proved his prowess with a shotgun afield – particularly in hunting doves. His shooting expertise and tips are just as strong today as then and will help you have a better dove season this year. Rosetti was very concerned about dove hunting safely and said to, “Never: shoot at a dove below the tree line; take your gun off of safety until just before you’re ready to shoot; walk through a dove field looking for a bird without first engaging your safety; and allow alcoholic beverages on a hunt until everyone unloads his gun, leaves the field and stores his gun.”
Have a Good Dog:
“I like Boykin spaniels because they have great abilities to retrieve doves and are wonderful pets,” Tony Rosetti told me. “Although I don’t know whether a dog is essential in a dove field, I’m sure I pick up more birds because of my dog than I ever did when I didn’t have a dog. On a good dove hunt, often a hunter may pick up seven or eight doves of the 10 he shoots. A retriever should locate all 10 birds. The dog is especially beneficial when you’re hunting in high grass or trying to shoot a double. When shooting two doves that are coming to you at the same time, you have to take your eye off the first bird you’ve shot, while the bird still is falling, to aim and shoot the second dove. Usually you can recover the second dove right after you’ve shot it. But you may spend considerable time trying to recover the first bird. However, a dog can go out and retrieve both birds more quickly and efficiently than you can.”
Wear Shooting Glasses:
Rosetti always emphasized the importance of quality shooting glasses by explaining, “Shooting glasses will help you shoot better because they decrease the amount of glare you have to face on bright day and also protect your eyes. If doves are raining into a field, and numbers of hunters are shooting, then the shot will fall on you all day. One problem that occurs when a hunter doesn’t wear shooting glasses is that when he aims at a bird, shot may fall into his eyes, cause him to miss the bird he’s shooting at and make him have blurred vision for the rest of the day.”
Use Ear Protection:
Hearing is a critical ingredient in the dove field for success as you listen for:
- the wing beats of the doves coming in from behind you before you see them;
- other hunters shooting to determine the direction from which the birds will come; and
- hunters shouting and telling you about approaching doves that you haven’t spotted.
Rosetti always advised, “If you shoot a lot, you can damage your hearing, if you’re not wearing some form of ear protection. Even the small, foam inserts that can be placed in your ears protect you from hearing loss. I recommend you use them.”
Rosetti wore camouflage to hunt doves. “I wear Mossy Oak camouflage (https://www.mossyoak.com/) from head to toe and try to sit in the shade. Doves can detect movement. By being completely camouflaged, even when I do have to move to bring my gun to my shoulder or to reposition myself for a shot, the doves aren’t as likely to spot me. The worst thing you can wear in a dove field is a solid-white shirt or any solid-colored shirt. Doves can see solid blocks of color more easily than they can the broken patches of color. To take more doves, be sure you’re camouflaged.”
To learn more about hunting deer, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “How to Hunt and Take Big Buck Deer on Small Properties,” available in Kindle, print and Audible versions at (http://amzn.to/1vIcj4m). You may have to copy and paste this click into your browser. (When you click on this book, notice on the left where Amazon allows you to read and hear 10% of the book for free). On the right side of the page and below the offer for a free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible book. To see more of John’s books, visit www.amazon.com/author/johnephillips.