Written by: Jennifer Miller, Greystone Castle
For many people in the South, dove season is just two months away. To attract birds, a well-planned dove field is a must. There are several key things to look for:
Doves like to feed on open ground. They are looking for seeds and prefer sunflowers, sorghum, and millet. Mowing strips in cultivated fields is a great way to knock the seed to the ground and let the birds find it. Doves do not scratch the ground like quail or turkey, so it is important that they can see the seeds and easily feed on them. Leaving strips of higher crops provides cover for the birds and lets them feel safe to land and feed.
They also like a field surrounded by thick trees. This provides them with great roosting, as well as cover if they are threatened. Leaving several trees throughout the field also provides a great place for hunters to set up and remain unseen.
Doves are social birds, so if they see other birds feeding, they will usually join in. Having a fence line or power line running through the field makes a great way for the birds to watch for danger and see where other birds are feeding. It also gives them a place to preen and loaf after feeding.
Easy access to a water source is also important. Doves prefer open watering holes where they can land and drink and escape quickly if danger is detected. A sandy or gravel bank is also attractive, as they like to eat the grit which helps them digest the seeds.
Federal laws apply to dove hunting. You are not allowed to feed them by spreading out seed. Strict daily limits are also in place to protect the population. Make sure you check your local laws for season dates and always have your hunting license with you.
Jennifer Miller works at Greystone Castle Sporting Club, in Mingus, Texas.