Outdoor enthusiasts interested in learning about dove hunting are encouraged to attend a free workshop provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife at the Delaware Wildlife Area shooting range on Saturday, Aug. 27 from 8 a.m. to noon.
Instructors will cover topics including safety, rules and regulations, hunting techniques, and target practice with the use of clay birds. All equipment will be provided, including shotguns, ammunition, clay birds, and safety gear. Participants are asked not to bring outside equipment.
The workshop is free of charge. Advance registration is required as space is limited, and no walk-ins will be admitted. The deadline for registration is Friday, Aug. 26. Register through the Wild Ohio Harvest Community Events and Learning Opportunities page at wildohio.gov.
Attendees should meet at the Delaware Shooting Range and Education Center at 1110 SR 229, Ashley, OH 43003. There will be both an indoor class period and outdoor shooting and hunting technique portion of the course depending on the weather. Please dress accordingly. For information on dove hunting in Ohio, please visit wildohio.gov.
Dove hunting has been a fall tradition since Ohio’s first season in 1995. Hunting doves is exciting and challenging, and successful hunters are rewarded with a delicious meal. The 2022 season is open from Sept. 1 to Nov. 6, with an additional season from Dec. 10 to Jan. 1, 2023. The daily limit is 15 birds.
If you enjoy shotgunning, you would love dove hunting. It is one of the most challenging sports for the scattergun user. These fast flying acrobatic birds can humble the most proficient marksman. This is what makes these birds the most popular of game birds in America.
The mourning dove is one of the most abundant and widespread game birds in North America. They can be found from coast to coast, ranging from Canada to Mexico. It is estimated that at least four million doves are found in Ohio each fall.
The great thing about hunting doves is that it doesn’t take a lot of money or equipment to enjoy the sport. All you need is your favorite shotgun; several boxes of shells, a bucket to sit on and you are ready to go. Most shot gunners prefer to use a 12 or 20 gauge shotgun rigged with an improved cylinder or modified choke along with 7-8 shot shells.
The most important key to being successful is scouting. You should begin looking for birds using feeding areas in late August. Look for freshly cut hay fields, wheat fields and the absolute best is a newly chopped cornfield. Another great spot to look for since the summer has been so dry is farm ponds. The birds will come to the water for a drink in the morning and again in the evening before they roost. Once a feeding area is found, set yourself up along the field edge or along a fencerow and get ready. Try to maintain a low profile until the birds are in shooting range and it does help to wear camouflage.
Opening day is always a fun time to go, but the best time really depends on the weather. The birds will start grouping up as the nights cool and will hang around until we get the first cold night, then many will be gone. They are just finicky about the weather. I can remember several years where there would be a ton of doves around the week before the opener then we get a typical early fall night where the temperature drops into the forties and it seems the birds migrated south overnight. That is just the difficulty of hunting migratory birds.
Once you have a nice mess of birds harvested, cleaning them is easy as the breast meat can be pulled off the carcass with your fingers. Rinse the breasts off, soak them in buttermilk or Italian salad dressing, wrap them in bacon, and fry in a skillet for ten minutes. You will love it.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.