The biggest factor in making a Good Dove Gun is being a Good Dove Gunner.

While clays and foresight can help, the best way to become a GDG is to shoot lots of doves. Make that shoot AT lots of doves.

One reason most of us bite the big enchilada in the fields is we don't get enough practice, and the season starts before we do much of any other hunting.

Dove season is our reality check as to how good we are.

A couple things, besides a month in Argentina at an estancia, that can help are.....

Familiarity with the shotgun. Even if you've owned it for decades, mileage is more crucial than longevity. If you've put some wear marks on Ol Trusty Rusty since 4 July, great. if not, go do so. If so, go do it more. Nowhere is BA/UU/R more apt.

Go shoot it. Trap straightaways are good, so are hard angles and quartering shots.Skeet also.

Incomers, from slowpokes to screamers are terrific for helping polish the moves.

Wobble is excellent, especially if you move the posts and shoot from non standard places. Nothing aids focus like a shot angle you've not seen for a while. Or ever....

Of course, do this from low gun. Dry mounting at home helps.

If you have access to a tower like good SC ranges have, stand directly under the flight path and take them coming in. Then, turn around and take them going away. When most are busted nicely, step 10 feet or so to the side and do it again. Keep moving.

Alas, no clay disc can imitate the hesitant, juking, gyring dove flight that keeps the ammo companies busy. ZZ birds are a decent attempt, though.

Know the differences between Swing Through, Pull Away and Maintained Lead. A good dove shoot will provide shot opps for each method.

And learn about range. Find out what 40 yards REALLY looks like and adhere to shots inside that. Closer is often better.

As for that Good Dove Gun.....

I've taken shots at doves with every type of shotgun action except lever actions. Any will do, including single shots from Toppers to SBTs.

Avoid the extremes. No 10 gauges, no 410s, no Cylinder chokes, no extra Full Turkey Stranglers. Your gun should be heavy enough to blunt the kick and light enough to wield quickly.

Any shotgun inside those generous parameters that you've run 1K+ shells through this year will do very well.

And try using target loads instead of those $3/box "Dove" loads at the box store. We're after humane, quick kills here and soft, unround shot is a step in the wrong direction.

Doves are hard to hit, easy to kill. Put three hard pellets into the body and they'll be past all pain when they hit the ground.

If you do what's been written here, my guess is you'll do way better on the Opener than the 1/5 ratio of birds to shots that's bandied about as the average.....

Dave McCracken has been shotgunning longer than many shooters have been alive. He regularly posts on TheHighRoad.org and TheFiringLine.com. This article is reprinted here with his permission; reprinting or redistributing this article without his permission is expressly prohibited.

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