Follow the Blue-Sky Rule for Dove Hunting
Dr. John Woods 09.04.20
Very soon all across the country, especially the south, the first official hunting seasons will be open for dove hunting. This is literally the first volley of fire for a true sporting bird for those who love a lot of shooting at these fast-darting game birds. There are some basic rules to follow to make dove hunting a safe sport. If you’ve ever been pelted by bird shot, you’ll appreciate these dove hunting safety rules.
Dove hunters should always adhere to the blue-sky rule, which is to say in the process of shooting flying doves, always make certain there is blue sky around the dove at the shot. This means no shooting at the level of the horizon or below. Gun barrels should be raised to shoot into the blue sky and no lower. This way there should not be any bird shot being fired toward any other hunter.
Years ago I attended one of the best dove hunts ever. It was located in Jones County, Mississippi known for excellent dove hunts. The field was a recently harvested corn crop that left plenty of corn residue on the ground for the doves to eat even though the field had been disked over. The weather that day was perfect, except for a low lying fog that covered the field for the first several hours.
Oddly enough the thick fog floated over the field but left open about five or six feet above the ground. The doves would dart and dance in and out of the low fog. In order to shoot, hunters had to kneel, sit down, or in a chair to shoot under the fog. This was dangerous to other hunters across the field, but shooters were widely dispersed around the perimeter. We still got pelted with lead shot as shotguns went to work. This setup was far from an optimal safety situation.
In order to conduct a reasonably safe dove hunt, a number of safety precautions need to take place. Primary to this is the placement of shooters in such a manner that no one is gunning in the direction of another hunter. If there is sufficient distance between opposite hunters, say across a large field, it may be deemed safe.
Remember, too, that doves are classified as migratory birds which are regulated by the federal authorities. Be sure to check with your state’s wildlife department concerning any special dove hunting regulations. And then shoot for the blue sky.