How to ... Scout for a successful mourning dove opener

  • Article by: BILL MARCHEL SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE
  • Updated: August 23, 2013 - 4:18 PM
hide

A hunter scans the sky in southwestern Minnesota for mourning doves, hoping decoys he's placed on a wire will help attract them. The 2013 season begins one half-hour before sunrise on Sunday, September 1.

– Thirty minutes before sunrise on Sunday, Sept. 1, the 2013 Minnesota mourning dove hunting season will open.

As a game bird, a mourning dove does not possess the wariness of, say, a mallard duck. Nor does it slink away under impenetrable cover like a rooster pheasant at the sound or sight of an approaching hunter.

That doesn’t mean the small brown birds with marble-size heads are a hunter’s version of fish in a barrel. Scouting for a prime hunting location before the Sept. 1 opener is by far the most important way to ensure a productive first day hunt.

Mourning doves, just like other game birds, have three basic requirements: food, water and shelter. Find any one of these dove necessities, or better yet all three, and you are likely to find doves. Early morning or late afternoon is the best time to scout because that is when doves are most active.

Food

Mourning doves thrive on small grain, so finding a recently harvested field of oats, wheat or sunflowers is a good place to start looking.

Doves also eat a variety of weed seeds. A farmer’s dictionary would tell you a “dirty field” is one with weeds sprouting between neat rows of crops. For the mourning dove, a “dirty field” is a good thing. A weedy field can provide a hungry dove with a smorgasbord of delectable weed seeds like foxtail, Johnson grass, pigweed and others. Also, look for low areas in crop fields that were flooded during early summer rains since those spots are often overrun with weeds, much to the delight of doves.

Water

Mourning doves require water at least once per day, usually just before going to roost in the evening. The birds prefer to drink from a pond with an open view. In other words, they get their water along shorelines free of tall vegetation such as cattails.

Cattle watering ponds are great spots to look for doves because livestock will have stomped down or otherwise eliminated the vegetation along the shore. During periods of drought, ponds that normally feature a weed-strewn shoreline might be low enough to provide doves with an open spot to land and drink.

Shelter

Mourning doves prefer to spend the night tucked in thick groves of trees, usually close to food and water. Pine plantations are often used as nighttime roosts, but any stand of trees providing the birds with a spot well-protected from the wind might serve as a roosting location.

During the daytime, doves often pass the time perched in dead trees or on electrical wires, especially if the wind is calm. These loafing sites are usually close to available food and water.

Bill Marchel, an outdoors writer and photographer, lives near Brainerd.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Oakland 8 Bottom 12th Inning
Kansas City 7
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 5 FINAL
Boston 3
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Dallas 1
Colorado 0 FINAL
Calgary 2
Los Angeles 3 3rd Prd 12:53
San Jose 1
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close