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Steve Comus – GUN TALK

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Friday, July 21, 2017
Pistols in 10mm
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Go light for upland birds

Dove hunt is here Sept. 1
All of the anticipation is now drawing to a close as the dove hunt opener Sept. 1 approaches. And this year, the opener offers a mega-weekend possibility since Sept. 1 is a Friday and then there is the long Labor Day weekend, all the way to Tuesday.

Practice on skeet and sporting clays ranges during the summer is always a good idea, but for those who have procrastinated, there is still hope. There should be time for at least one quick trip to the range to make certain the gun is working well and that the swing and timing are in order.

DOVE SHOTS CAN be directly overhead, which means it is good to limber-up and be ready for shots, regardless how they are presented.

Most of all, however, make certain to have any licenses and stamps that are required. No need to have problems in the field over something like not having the proper paperwork.

Also, for those who will be using repeaters like pumps and semi-autos, make certain they can hold no more than three shells (including one in the chamber). For some guns, this means some kind of magazine plug. Again, no need to run into problems in the field that can be addressed easily and quickly before the hunt.

Ammo for dove hunts is not a major concern in that virtually any legal ammo can work fine – it doesn’t take a lot to bring down a well-hit dove. Check regs to make certain the ammo in hand is legal to be used where the hunt happens. Some areas now require lead-free ammo, others do not.

What gauge is best? It’s truly a personal preference. Most folks use 12- or 20-gauge guns (sales on ammo usually involve 12- and 20-gauge). I like the .410. They all work. Best shot sizes are No. 7½ or 8 for lead, or No. 6 or 7 for steel.

Best choke? Depends on the situation at hand. Rarely does a full choke make sense for dove hunting. Best bets usually are with improved cylinder or modified. If the shots are going to be close, skeet chokes or cylinder bores work fine.

PUMP SHOTGUNS LIKE this one from Dickinson make total sense for dove hunts.

Dove number updates from other areas are included in other reports, but from Southern Arizona, about all I can say is that we’re covered-up in doves (mourning, white-winged and Eurasian collared) as I write this column.

Last-minute cold rains can send the white-winged doves south to Mexico just as the season opens (has happened in some years), but even if they do, there should be enough birds to fill bags pretty much throughout the southern part of the state.

This has been an exceptionally wet summer, which means that birds are well dispersed and don’t necessarily gang-up around water holes as they do during drier years. But water holes are still worth checking out, because a lot of doves roost in trees surrounding those spots.

Regardless where the hunt is, the important thing is to get out in the wild and go hunting. The dove opener is just the beginning of a whole host of fall hunting seasons. As always, shoot straight and often. And be safe.

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Steve Comus is a nationally recognized hunting editor with Safari Club International and a former WON Guns and Hunting Editor. His column appears every other week in WON and he can be reached at


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