How Far to Lead a Dove

Opening day of dove season can be both thrilling and daunting. Even after practicing shooting clays all summer, putting what you learned into action may prove difficult when shooting dove in flight.

Mastering how far to lead a dove is crucial to improving your success in bird hunting, here are a few pointers that may help.


Dove shooting requires many shots from close and far distances. Knowing your gun’s maximum range will enable you to accurately ascertain how much lead you require. A target stand and paper targets provide a convenient way of testing its pattern at different ranges; or use wood or cardboard pieces as targets in order to test whether you can hit the center of circles at various distances.

Many hunters overestimate the range of doves, taking shots that exceed their abilities. Although it can be rewarding to push oneself, most dove hunters would benefit more by staying within their effective range and shooting more birds that come within effective shooting distance. This will reduce wasted ammunition costs.

As a beginner dove hunter, it is important to remember that you will miss more shots than hits. Don’t let this deter you from enjoying this sport; with practice comes improvement and it may help taking lessons with a wing-shooting instructor to analyze why you are missing and provide tips to improve your shooting.

Keep in mind that doves fly quickly, which means they may move out of range quickly if left to their own devices. To combat this issue, it is crucial that your shot preparation and sight picture remain focused while simultaneously maintaining eye contact with the bird as it flies past you.

Patient shooting is the key to accurate shooting. While it’s common to miss some doves at first, take time and enjoy the experience; with patience you will eventually hit your dove limit!

If you find that you cannot hit a dove with your gun, try finding it on the ground and retrieving it instead of firing ammo into it. Not only will this save ammo costs but will also develop your tracking abilities and save ammo for next time! While hunting, be wary of snakes or any other potentially venomous creatures.


Doves prefer areas with access to seeds and bare ground, such as roads and fields where these resources are abundant. They also enjoy hanging around near water sources like ponds or cattle ponds for this source of sustenance.

Prior to dove season, make an effort to pre-scout your hunting area. Doing this multiple times may help identify feeding patterns and any specific requirements needed for successful dove hunting. Scouting at night would be particularly advantageous as doves are most active at that time of day.

As part of your scouting, take note of any impending rainstorms or cool fronts in the area you plan to hunt in. Doves don’t enjoy cooling rain and may move on when an approaching front arrives – this could prove invaluable in producing successful hunts!

Additionally, keep an eye on the weather and look for any natural cover to conceal yourself in. Doves don’t like being surrounded by thick brush or trees, so finding any sort of protection – from cedar fence posts, brushy points or uncut rows of corn – is sure to help ensure that you remain undetected and remain hidden and undetected.

Make sure that you check for snakes. Dove hunters often encounter serpentine friends during hunting expeditions; take care to look around if you think there could be one nearby! Additionally, wear snake boots if the area is renowned for slithering activity.

Hunters making one mistake when hunting doves include raising their guns before the bird has come within shooting range – this may cause it to flare out or swerve out of target and make hitting them difficult. To prevent this mistake, wait until a dove has entered shooting range before slowly and steadily raising your gun in one smooth movement.

Time of Day

Soon-to-be dove season opener will mark an exciting opportunity for many wing shooters to unleash a hailstorm of lead in the sky. However, shooting a dove can be tricky even for experienced shooters due to its small size and dense pattern making it hard to hit with just one or two shots. In order to become a successful dove hunter it takes patience, ammunition that matches its target perfectly, concealment strategies and concealment methods that work together effectively.

Start off right by learning what a dove looks like and practicing identifying it in your backyard before heading out into the field. This will enable you to better distinguish doves from other flying objects in the sky and make targeting them simpler. As a novice dove hunter, it may also be beneficial to wear camo so as to blend in with your surroundings more seamlessly; additionally, investing in a mirror blind may improve both comfort and shooting accuracy.

As part of your efforts to increase the odds of success, hunt at optimal times of day. Doves tend to be most active early and mid afternoon when emerging from their roosts for food before returning later that night.

Make sure to pay close attention to the weather; when there’s an approaching cold front, doves may move to higher ground in an effort to escape rain and cooler temperatures.

Dove hunters should consider changing their chokes as the season advances. As dove hunting season nears, tighten your choke for an easier and denser shot pattern that’s more effective at hitting fast-moving doves.

Dove hunters should remember to stay hydrated during their hunt, even on cloudy and cool days, since the hot sun can quickly cause dehydration. Therefore, it’s advisable to bring several bottles of water with them and drink regularly from them to prevent heat stroke from impacting their dove hunt! No one wants their hunt lost because of heat stroke!


Doves possess excellent eyesight, making it easier for them to detect anything brightly-colored or otherwise standing out from their surroundings, including clothing in bright hues or clothing that makes you stand out against trees, bushes and vegetation. Infrared sensors detect scent if any deodorant is worn – wearing camouflage clothing as much as possible helps avoid detection. In some areas you can also legally utilize decoy birds such as inflatable ones sitting on fences to plastic ones with battery powered wings to lure birds closer into range for shooting opportunities!

Do not hunt on privately-owned agricultural fields without first seeking permission from their landowner. Some farmers have policies against hunting over their crops and will remove any signs that dove hunters have been there. Also avoid hunting any areas seeded to control soil erosion as this can be unethical and illegal hunting behavior.

Becoming familiar with your local dove species’ flight pattern and practicing how to recognize them at various distances will make you a much more accurate and proficient wing shooter. Be mindful of its speed as you create lead distance – being aware of its movement will make hitting a target easier at any range! To calculate distance of lead needed simply multiply speed in miles per hour by 1.47 and divide by dove speed before subtracting that figure from what would normally be required from you as far away distance for hitting targets. A general rule of thumb would be multiply speed in feet per second then subtract out from what would normally be required from you before subtracting it again to arrive at target distance needed from where it needs to be!

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