How to Build an Awesome Dove Hunting Field

By

Use These Tips to Pull Doves to Your Hunting Property

The basic ingredients for a good dove field are no secret. Plant plenty of food, give ‘em a little water, provide grit, open ground, and a handful of places for the birds to sit. Then, carefully manage the hunting pressure. But a great dove field has more. More planning. More forethought. And, of course, more expense.

If I were king for a spell with a fat budget, this is the dove field I’d design and build. For practical purposes, I’ll omit the automatic chilled Gatorade and water dispensers at each shooting location, as well as the shaded dog blinds. There will be time for those things later; after all, I am the king, and this is but a work in progress.

The Overview

Our plot begins with roughly nine rural acres of decent farm ground. A gravel road runs along the northernmost edge before turning south to border the west. A working power transmission line stands along the north/south gravel road.

A 2.75-acre sunflower patch makes up the southern portion of the plot; a 1.8-acre cornfield adjoins the sunflowers, running north/south along the eastern border. In the center is a quarter-acre shallow pond with sand and bare ground banks and several dead elms/oaks on its northwestern shoreline.

To the northwest and adjoining the pond is a one-acre wheat field. A one-acre grove of Russian olives stands as a potential roost site. The remaining ground, roughly two acres total, is left as set-aside, and consists of ragweed, foxtail and pigweed. This set-aside can be mowed prior to the season to provide additional seed food sources.

Make It Legal

You don’t want to be the guy who inadvertently baits a dove field and subsequently sends your guests home with game violations. There’s a perception that dove baiting laws are confusing, but they’re really not. Fields must simply be planted according to standard agricultural procedures. In addition, dove fields can be manipulated. Sunflowers can be sprayed and mowed. Wheat can be burned. (Crop manipulation is not, however, legal for waterfowl hunting.)

Standard agricultural practices not only include what’s done with a standing crop, but also how and when a crop is sown. Your local agriculture extension offices give advice for sowing dates and rates for wheat, for example. If you vary from those recommendations, especially by sowing too much wheat too late in the season, you’re flirting with a baiting violation.

For a complete overview of dove baiting laws, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement page on the subject.  

Go here for more Realtree small game hunting. Follow us on Facebook.

(Editor's note: This Realtree.com article was first published July 24, 2013.)