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Dove Hunting - Do's and Don'ts



Finding a place to go dove hunting is really not a diificult. task. Within a few hours drive of the stable for the Indianapolis Colts here in the Circle City, there are 5 public land hot spots to consider when trying your hand at hitting those fast flying lumps of grey matter called doves. The "butt, belly, beak, bang" method for shooting a flying object is an easy way to remember how to follow through with your shot and really helps the pocketbook with the price of ammunition now days. Remember that your pattern also has depth as well and timing is critical for improving your shooting percentages.

Whenever you do prepare to go dove hunting on any FWA, do keep in mind that new for Indiana is the law mandating the use of non-toxic shot while hunting doves on all state fish and wildlife areas. Note- whenever changing over to shooting steel shot, use a more open choke because steel shot does not constrict as readily as lead and can potentially damage your barrel. For example, if you currently use an improved cylinder, open it up to a skeet choke which in turn will also open up your pattern and increase your odds of filling your game bag.

To find a public hunting area in Indiana, an excellent resource is . Here you will find a county by county list of where you can hunt as well as contact information, what you can hunt, total acreas and also locations for public shooting ranges as well. Contact the property where you would like to hunt for indivdual property rules and regulations.

Opening day of dove season has an annual kick-off day of September 1. Before hunting for doves, hunters are required to obtain H.I.P numbers before going afield. HIP is the abbreviation for Harvest Information Program, which is used to get a handle on how many migratory birds are taken each year in each state. A H.I.P. number is required to legally hunt woodcock, snipe, rails, coots, ducks, geese, mergansers and crows. Another new ruling is that anyone in Indiana that is hunting doves must have a state game bird stamp to do so. To obtain your H.I.P. number,  use a push button phone only and dial 1-866-671-4499 to register.

One of the biggest deterrents to land owners allowing the use of their property for hunting is hunter etiquette. If you arrive at a property and the gates are closed to the fields, by all means close them when going in and going out. This also holds true if they are open as well. The best rule of thumb is to keep the area the way it was when you arrived- if not better when you leave. Use common sense when parling your vehicle and never block access gates when going to and from fields.

There are certain shooters called 'slob' hunters that never pick up their empties and also throw their water and soda bottles and trash on the ground and think nothing of it. This kind of poor conduct will determine the future of hunting. Always pick up your spent shells and if you see some that aren't yours, pick those up too. Your actions represents millions of other hunters and fishermen with what you do so always be an ethical sportsmen.

You have your license, your H.I.P. number, your state game bird stamp. some form of identification on your person, your vest, your gun and shells, eye and ear protection- you are now ready to take to the field. One last thing- don't forget your manners.

For more information on state by state hunting laws, go to and click on 'State Agencies' for information for your state.