Dove hunting season starts on the 1st of September, the best times to hunt doves during dove hunting season are when the birds are most active, usually when flying between feeding and roosting areas. This will be early morning and late afternoon.
There are some significant differences between dove hunting in the USA and pigeon hunting in the UK although the physical process and timing are very similar.
Areas of difference are:
- Laws and regulations
- Birds that can be hunted
Dove Hunting in the USA
The most important factor of the sport in the USA is that because it is an invasive species, the Eurasian collared dove can be hunted all year round.
Although protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the native Mourning dove can be hunted in 41 states in the specified hunting season but a hunting license is required.
Dove hunting season begins September 1st.
The hours vary by state so anyone hoping to hunt mourning doves needs to check local regulations but generally, hunting is allowed from one-half hour before sunrise up to sunset.
There may be special hours for certain species or for specific regions.
You can only shoot during specified hours and not during the closed season unless you are hunting Eurasian collared doves.
Your license will also specify how many birds you are allowed to bag in any one day and you must not exceed that limit, no how good a day’s shoot you may be having.
The best time to shoot doves is the times when the birds are most active – usually when flying between feeding and roosting areas.
This will be early morning and late afternoon.
Morning dove hunters will be most successful if they set up no later than sunrise.
Evening hunters will be most successful just before dusk.
Pigeon Hunting in the UK
Because the British see doves and pigeons as being quite different species (pigeons are classed as vermin whereas doves have a more romantic reputation), the practice is called pigeon hunting.
It is unlikely for British shooters to venture out on the hunt for doves.
In the UK, there also isn’t the same level of sportiness applied to the practice of dove hunting as in the USA.
In the UK, most bird hunting is usually for game birds for which there are specific seasons, such as for example, the grouse season which begins on the 12th of August.
In the UK, hunting licenses are not issued for the shooting of feral pigeons but you must have a license for your shotgun.
Pigeon hunting is more about population control or the collection of meat than for the sheer sport.
There are no specific seasons or times.
Also, because there are no licensing laws, the other big difference between US dove hunting and UK pigeon hunting is that UK hunters most usually require permission from a farmer or landowner to be able to shoot on their land.
A farmer is probably most receptive to shooters on his land when he wants his newly sown crops protected.
Like the US, however, the best times to hunt and shoot pigeons are the same – when they are most active.
Set yourself up close to woods to be ready when they fly to and from their nests.