As I woke up on the morning of my first dove hunt, I was filled with excitement and curiosity. How big is a dove? How hard is it going to be to shoot? Will I miss every bird? Will I be the only one that has never dove hunted before? These were just some of the questions I had as we pulled up at Schrader’s Outdoors. After checking in at the Clubhouse, I sat and chatted with my fellow hunters. I hadn’t seen my friend, Jack, since the end of goose season — so it was time to catch up.
Kat Haas Outdoors is sponsored by Remington
Around noon, I headed out to the truck and grabbed the gun case with my Remington V3 Field Sport safely tucked inside with a few boxes of shells. None of us knew how the birds would be flying, so we brought about 150 shells among the 3 of us. We hopped in the truck and followed Ken Schrader, owner and founder of Schrader’s Outdoors, to our hunting location.
I grabbed an old bucket off the porch of the farmhouse and we settled into a line of dried sunflowers to wait for the birds. While the sun beat down on us, the 3 of us spent our time together talking about different hunts we had been on and what we had all been up to. While we were all talking, I scanned the skies. I didn’t have a clue what to look for, but I looked for anything that could be a dove. While I was learning about what to look and listen for, it was also story time.
Jack told me all about his dove hunts in the past. When the dove were plenty, you could limit-out in less than an hour. As a new dove hunter, I could only imagine how fast-paced those hunts must’ve been. As our time in the sun passed, so did the stories of action-packed dove hunts, and I itched for action. All of a sudden, a single dove came out of nowhere and landed on the powerline about 50 yards away. So, I decided to start walking toward it, in order to get a shot as it flew off of its perch. After standing, I turned on the Tactacam 4.0, secured to the barrel of my Remington V3, and started walking along the sunflowers. I had only gone 10 yards from where I sat before the dove took off. I shut off my Tactacam and walked back to my seat with my head hung.
“Don’t beat yourself up. He already knew you were there.” That’s what I was told as I returned to my seat. So far, the best part of my first dove hunt was just sitting out in the sunflowers with friends. A few other doves flew past us while we sat in the sunflowers. They were usually too far away to bother shooting and we certainly did not want to take unethical shots. A pair of them flew by so fast that by the time we got our guns up, they had flown into the horizon.
Around 4:30 pm, we packed up and headed back to the clubhouse. We were guided back to a small strip of cut sunflowers and corn where the guides had seen a few dove over the previous few days. As soon as I got my gun loaded, I grabbed my ammo bag and headed out with the other 2 hunters behind me.
Within seconds of walking along the corn, a single dove popped up out of the corn. My hunting companions both fired off 2 shells, but by the time I got the V3 shouldered and the safety off, it was gone. We scanned the skies, but alas, there were few doves to be found.
Once again, all the doves we saw were too far away or we saw them flash by us and it was too late to shoot. Were we ever going to shoot a dove? It didn’t seem probable. According to the guides, the weather had messed up their flight patterns. Maryland had gone through a week-long cold snap before heating back up a day before our hunt. We were all feeling a little down, especially me. I had been so excited to go on my first dove hunt. It was a new experience and so far, it hadn’t been very exciting.
All of a sudden, I heard feathers slicing through the air. BOOM! Three shots rang out and one of the doves fell out of the sky. The other dove flapped even faster, just barely skimming across the top of the corn stalks to safety. After retrieving the bird, we saw that 1 pellet impacted right at the base of the skull. One pellet was all it took. I’m unsure whose pellet hit that bird, but it did the job. After a quick celebration, we quickly settled back down and hoped another bird would fly by us. We stood in the rows of sunflowers for another half hour before we all came to the conclusion that dinner was sounding better than standing in a cloud of mosquitoes.
I cleared my shotgun, put the cable lock through the action, and slid my V3 into its case. Once we made it back to our truck, I moved the guns and ammo over. We talked about where to have dinner when Andrew, the head guide of Schrader’s Outdoors, pulled up. Andrew asked how we did and I presented the single dove we killed. Apparently, the 3 of us fared better than some of the other groups.
After waiting a little bit longer, we all decide that dinner sounds better than being eaten alive by mosquitoes. With that, my first dove hunt came to a close and I didn’t even come close to hitting a bird. While it may not have been the dove hunt I expected, I learned a few things: I need to spend more range time shooting clays because practicing how to quickly mount and shoot a shotgun is vital to wingshooting. And … spending time outdoors with friends doing what we love make the best memories.
Meanwhile, over in Texas, our Babbs got plenty of opportunities to shoot her V3 at doves. Read the story.
From an early age, Kat Haas' love of the outdoors has been constant and unwavering. Kat spent countless hours outside with horses when she was young. As she grew, so did her passion for the outdoors. She started shooting at the age of 14. By the time she was 21, she was hunting and trapping. Kat blogs at kathaasoutdoors.com to inspire other newcomers, and those who have nobody to teach them, to find their inner passions for the outdoors. View all posts by Kat Haas