Dove hunting with family and friends
By Carin R. Kirkegaard; photos courtesy of Jon Landis
Jon Landis, although he was born back east, moved to Colorado at age 11 and has been hunting his whole life. One of his oldest memories is walking in the woods back in Pittsburgh, hunting squirrels and rabbits with his grandfather, father and older brother by his side. Although he does hunt big game, his sport of choice is dove hunting.
Considered part of the small game and waterfowl hunting category, the 2020 dove hunting season began September 1 and runs through November 29 for Colorado native mourning and white-winged doves.
Hunting season conjures visions of crisp mornings with the crunch of frost underfoot. Landis said that’s not the case with dove hunting. Colorado native doves are migratory and they love the heat, said Landis.
For Landis his dove hunting trips are a fun social occasion. For years, he and the same group of friends he’s had since high school and college load up their dogs and head east to Fort Morgan where they laugh, reminisce and hunt.
He gives two pieces of advice for choosing the best spot to hunt. He says you need to find a field of grain crops like corn, beans or milo that has a natural water source nearby and trees for roosting. Since the days are still pretty warm, Landis and his crew set up between the field of crops (the feeding area) and the water source (the roosting area). They start in the morning, catching the birds flying between roosting and feeding. As the day warms, the birds look for cooler spots to roost and the hunters take a break too. When the day begins to cool in the early evening, they start the process all over again.
The fields are typically filled with thousands of birds. “You shoot a lot and you miss a lot, but I always bring home something,” said Landis. “I eat everything I shoot.” In Landis’ opinion, the best way to prepare a dove breast is to wrap it in bacon with a jalapeno slice and grill it. They are small, but make the perfect appetizer, he added.
Dove hunting is an ideal introduction to the greater sport for young hunters. The weather is usually perfect. There isn’t a lot of gear needed, and the limits for how many doves you can bag are liberal – giving novices to the sport up-front success without a lot of frustration.
Coming full circle from his days hunting with his own dad, Landis says his most memorable hunting moment wasn’t when he shot his first bird, but rather, like many parents it was when his son, Johnny, shot his. Landis said it’s his greatest memory – the emotion hit him – how happy he was for Johnny and the pride he felt as a father.
To learn more about Colorado’s 2020 small game and waterfowl hunting guidelines, visit https://cpw.state.co.us/Documents/RulesRegs/Brochure/SmallGameWaterfowl.pdf.