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Hunting & Fishing

How to Build a Great Dove Field

May 4, 2017

It might seem like a long time until the start of dove hunting season. However, now is the time to start preparing your dove field so you can have a great season opener.

If you don’t already have an established dove field on your property, the following tips will help you create and maintain a successful field this upcoming season.

Determining the ideal spot to build a dove field is probably the most important factor. Birds are attracted to spots that provide the most food, grit, water, bare dirt, and areas to roost. If you can find a spot that has most – if not all – of these factors, then you are off to a great start.

Grit is essential for doves to digest their food. It can sometimes be found in sandy soils but is mostly found on gravel roads. Having a dirt or gravel road next to your field will make your spot more attractive to doves.

If you happen to have a power line running through your property, you might want to consider using it. If not, you can always add fake power lines. When they’re not feeding below, doves will usually sit on the lines. Scouting the number of birds on the power lines will give you a good indication of when to shoot your field.

Water is also an important factor that most hunters don’t consider. Small ponds or drainage ditches are great to have on your field. The banks should be clean, so the birds will feel comfortable drinking water and won’t feel threatened by predators.

Open ground or bare dirt needs to make up approximately 40 percent of your field. Doves do not like cover, they like open areas.  Mowing strips of crops for food is a great way to open up areas and feed the doves at the same time. You can also go back over the strips with a tiller which will create smooth, fine dirt that doves feel comfortable around.

This field is harrowed up and ready to plant.

Ultimately, growing crops is the only legal way to feed the doves. The best crops for a dove field are sunflowers, corn, millet, sorghum, and wheat. If possible, plant these in smaller strips, while rotating the crops. Two weeks before you plan to shoot, you will want to spray glyphosate to kill the plants, which allows the seeds to fall to the ground. Consider staggering your plantings so that you will have plenty of food for the entire season.

Sunflowers and sorghum starting to head out

Make sure to also check with your local National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) chapter about discounts on seed through their seed subsidy programs.

Having a great dove field is an ideal opportunity to host friends and family on your property for a fun time. It’s a great social outing that can also be full of action and very rewarding if you plan appropriately. If you’ve got more questions, feel free to reach out to your local NLR Land Professional!

Aerial shot of last season’s dove field at Caney Flats, located in southeast Georgia.

About the Author
Tommy Stroud, Jr. was born and raised in St. Simons Island, GA. As an Eagle Scout, he grew up appreciating the outdoors. He graduated from Auburn University with a major in Marketing and a Masters in Real Estate Development. He then spent the next seven years in commercial real estate and commercial & land appraisals with McColgan & Company in Atlanta and Driggers Commercial Group in St. Simons. He is 1 of 29 agents in Georgia to be awarded the esteemed Accredited Land Consultant designation (ALC). He also holds the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation. Tommy serves on the REALTORS© Land Institute Future Leaders Committee. He holds an active real estate license in the states of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. Tommy lives on St. Simons with his wife and daughter and in his spare time he enjoys hunting, fishing, golf, and college football. View Tommy's Listings and Reviews on