Decoying Doves

Decoying Doves

With dove season on the way, here are a few tips to get your limit.

By Ryan Sparks, Associate Editor

This article originally appeared in the June 2023 edition of Safari Times.

Part of what makes dove hunting so enjoyable is its simplicity – find a field that doves are using, grab your shotgun, a box of shells, maybe a bucket to sit on and you’re set.

I’ve hunted doves like this since I was a teenager, but in the past few years I started taking a few decoys along and it has greatly increased my success. Decoys not only bring doves closer to my position but can attract birds from a distance. With dove season on the way in North America, here’s how to set up a dove decoy spread of your own.

A dove tree elevates your decoys and makes them more visible from a distance. With a spinning wing decoy like a MOJO dove, a setup like this is incredibly effective. Notice the additional dove and flicker decoys on the ground.

Be Visible

If you’ve ever watched doves feeding or picking grit on a gravel road, you’ve probably noticed that a few doves feed while others perch above and scan for danger.

Placing decoys in an elevated position creates both a realistic setup and makes your decoys more visible to passing doves. Many dove decoys come with clothespins attached to the bottom for clipping on branches or wire fences. Make sure to place them as high as you can.

Sometimes there isn’t a suitable tree for attaching decoys, and even when there is, you can only place your decoys so high. To solve this problem, I made a simple “dove tree” that I can place wherever I want.

To make a dove tree you need a piece of PVC or ABS pipe cut to your desired length (you can also link pieces together using plumping fittings which makes it more portable), a steel fencepost or stake, and a wooden dowel. Simply drill a hole through the top of the pipe slightly larger than your dowel and glue the dowel in place to keep it from spinning under the weight of the decoys. To make the tree more portable I didn’t glue my dowel, but duct tape it in place while I’m hunting. It’s not pretty but it works.

When you find the spot you want to set up (ideally where it can be seen from a long distance), pound your fencepost or stake in the ground and slide the end of the pipe over the top. Doves will often pass close to the tree, so set it up 20-30 yards in front of you for the best shot opportunities.

Dove hunting is a simple pursuit, but using a few dove decoys brings doves closer, resulting in more doves in the bag.

Add Motion

I was blown away the first time I used a motorized dove decoy. Several doves actually tried to land on the decoy, and its flashing wings drew doves seemingly out of nowhere. Adding motion to my spread was so effective I’ve now started incorporating motion decoys into both my dove tree and my ground decoys.

To add motion to my dove tree I glued plumbing fittings (a cleanout adaptor and cleanout plug) to the top of the pipe and cut a square hole just barely big enough to fit the square post of my spinning wing decoy.

Combining the motion of the decoy with the height of the dove tree creates a long-range dove magnet. Around my dove tree I place 6-8 dove decoys on the ground along with four “flicker decoys.”

Flicker decoys imitate doves on the ground stretching their wings by flashing for a couple seconds and then going still. From a distance it looks incredibly realistic.

Compared to other decoys, dove decoys are inexpensive, but doves still respond amazingly well to them. The next time you go dove hunting, I highly recommend the little bit of extra effort to put out a decoy spread.

Hi-Bird For High Birds

Federal Premium has a 100-year reputation for making quality shotshells. A good one to use this dove season is their Hi-Bird. They are a great all-around shell, cost about $20 a box, have a special recoil-reducing wad and are made with high-density lead. They’re fine for decoying doves and especially effective on high, passing shots — not all doves give you an easy shot, after all.