If you’re planning on making an October dove hunt, don’t expect the birds to be as carefree as they were on opening day.
“By the second split, probably a lot of the doves have been shot at, so they’ll be a little more leery,” said Jeff Duguay, the webless migratory upland game bird study leader for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “On opening day, a lot of the doves are fairly naive. You can almost stand out in the open, and they might fly by.
“But after opening day, you need to have some more cover.”
Duguay suggested hunkering down along tree lines or amongst stands of sunflower that haven’t been cut.
“Try to camo-up to match the background better,” he said. “And Mojo doves seem to work well, too. I’d put a couple of those out.”
If field management permits, Duguay suggested cutting or bush hogging 10 days to two weeks in advance of the opening of the second split.
“It seems to take the doves a little time to find it. But once they do, they tend to flock up,” he said. “A few birds find it, then a few more birds key in on them and by a week or so, you start getting more birds coming in.
“But you don’t want to do it too soon. If you get a lot of rain, the seeds could start sprouting.”
Fred Kimmel, education program manager with LDWF, said second-split birds might require a different choke than the one you used on opening day.
“If the birds are a bit more wary, you might want to change chokes realizing you’ll have to take some longer shots,” Kimmel said. “Typically, when I dove hunt, I use an improved cylinder.
“Later in the season, once the birds have been shot at once or twice, I might move to a modified choke to get a little more range and a denser pattern a little further out.”
A little extra effort could yield solid mid-season results.
“The second split can really be pretty productive,” Kimmel said. “But a lot of people don’t really hunt it because they’re all thinking about squirrels and ducks and deer at that point.
“But it can be pretty good hunting in that time period.”