HUNTINGsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 10 - WILDLIFE


Dove hunting has become a national pastime. We’ve got major dove-love.

Mourning Dove


The mourning dove is one of the most abundant birds in North America. They are a greyish-blue or greyish-brown color and they have little black spots on their wings and behind their eyes. The males are slightly more colorful than the females with an iridescent blue-pink color on the feathers on the back of their neck. Doves measure up to 33cm in length and their legs are a pinkish color. The trademark of the mourning dove is the whistling sound their wings make when they’re flying.


These birds are on the seed diet. However, they’ll also eat herbs, grains and berries. If a field has been ploughed and the seed disturbed, that’ll be a hotbed for dove activity. These little guys can eat anywhere from 12 to 20 per cent of their body weight daily, so odds are, if you can find their food source, you’ll be in luck.

Habitat & Migration Habits

Mourning dove migratory habits can vary. Some migrate in the winter; some don’t. If the doves in your neighborhood decide to stick around, you’ll know it. They’ll be frequent visitors of the bird feeder in your yard. They’ll live in wooded areas, open fields or even residential areas. Males and females pair up in the spring and build flimsy little nests together in the crooks of tree branches.

Firearms, Ammo & Your Target

Dove hunters use shotguns. Doves are small, quick-moving targets, so you’ll need to have a firearm/ammo combo that provides plenty of pattern density when shot at a distance. A 12, 16 or 20-gauge shotgun will do the job but a 12-gauge is the most versatile option and is very popular with dove hunters.  

Vital Zones

It won’t take much to kill a dove, but you’ll need to shoot accurately. Pepper the bird  with shot pellets while it’s in flight and it will come down pretty quick. The goal is to hit the head, spine, heart, and lungs to take the bird down quickly. Shooting randomly at a bunch of doves zooming around in a field will be less effective than taking a calculated shot. Take your time, use a versatile shotgun that provides different shot options, and shoot accurately.  

Dove Hunting Tip:

Doves are most active in the morning and in the evening. They are also creatures of habit, so learn their habits and you’ll know best when to hunt them.

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