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CHRIS SMITH

In one week, fields all over the state will be buzzing with activity and hopefully doves.

The first day of September is the beginning of dove season.

Texas is broken up into three different dove hunting zones. The North zone and the central zone both start their season on Sept. 1. The south zone gets started on Sept. 14. It’s easier to refer to the Texas Parks & Wildlife maps than to explain the highways and landmarks used to define the different zones. The maps are available on the TP&W website or the TP&W Outdoor Annual mobile App.

If you’re planning a trip to other parts of the state, be sure to check dates, times and limits.

Assuming you have all the gear and information on your dove hunt, a trip to the range, sporting clays course or your favorite shooting area is in order. Load up the entire family, every shotgun you own, a case of shells and a box of clays and shoot everything you brought. This is one way to practice your shotgun skills.

For those folks that shotgun year-round, this practice may not be needed but it’s still fun to run a few rounds through the scatter guns. The first few days of the season will be easier than every day afterward. The birds get shot at from the moment they begin their migration south. Understandably, the sound of a shotgun will cause the dove to dip, flare or dodge, even if they are not being shot at.

This is where your August shotgun practice comes in handy.

You and your people shot a couple hundred rounds so any fancy flying or dodging won’t cause as many problems. Seriously, refamiliarizing yourself with your gun and relearning the timing of the swing, etc., is always a good idea before heading out. We like to use the hand thrower and double hand thrower for this practice. The angles and speed are controlled by the thrower and the degree of difficulty can be adjusted for different shooters.

Work on left to right passing shots as well as right to left. Essentially work on the shot that gives you trouble in actual hunting applications. I struggle with incoming bird. Flying straight in to the shooter. This is the shot I try to duplicate during practice.

This may not be mentioned enough but please work on keeping both eyes open while shooting. I have witnessed so many people closing their non-dominant eye while shooting a shotgun. Once you learn to shoot with both eyes, it will seem awkward to close one eye.

This method is clearly better on passing shots coming from the non-dominant side. If you aren’t sure which of your eyes is the dominant one, here’s a quick test to help determine the issue. With both eyes open, point your index finger to any object say 10 feet away, a door knob is perfect. Center your finger in the center of the doorknob and hold it still. Now close one eye (either one), if your finger is still centered on the doorknob then the eye that is open is your dominant eye.

If your finger moved to the left or right of the center of the doorknob, then you closed your dominant eye. Basically whatever we point at, we use our dominant eye as our “aiming eye”. Here is where the “both eyes open” helps out. The non-dominant eye being open expands your peripheral vision and allows you to see approaching targets well in advance. More time equals better shot selection.

Get out this weekend and knock the rust off your shoulder and the dust off your shotgun.

 
 

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