Category Archives for "Tips"

7 Best Electronic Hearing Protections for Hunting 2021

a hunter wearing an electronic hearing protection muff when hunting

It is normal to find shooters walking into an active shooting activity without ear protective gear. But, do they understand the risks involved in the long run? How many hunters above 60 years still have good hearing?

Although hearing every shot to a duck, elk or deer is important, it erodes your hearing abilities, robing hunters one of their important senses. At times this goes to an extent where a hunter cannot properly engage in a conversation.  The damages caused to the ears can either be temporary or permanent.

Why is hearing protection required?

Wearing ear protection does not only protect the hearing loss, but it also saves a hunter from using hearing aids in the future. However, good news to the hunters is that they can prevent themselves from permanent conditions like tinnitus and induced hearing loss.

Facts indicate that a single gunshot can cause a  permanent hearing loss. Over 85 decibels of gunshot noise can cause has negative impact to a hunter’s hearing capabilities.  Remember a normal shot ranges between 130 -180 decibels louder whether it is a give or take.

The NRR measurements

The effectiveness ofa hearing protection gear is based on the NRR (Noise Reduction Rating). Therefore,the higher the NRR, the higher the hearing protection you get from a device, resulting in the reduction of exposure to loud noise.

While Earplugs are better than hunting on naked ears, earmuffs are effective for shooting and hunting ear protection.

It is important to wear ear protection when exposed to noisy environments and when you enter any shooting range. Luckily there are better options available on the market to address the problem. This guide will make it easier for you to make the best choices that meet your needs.

1. Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff

black colored Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff for Hunting

Check Latest Price

These electronic earmuffs are by far some of the most popular earmuffs you will see at the range. They work really well to block loud noises and amplify quiet sounds.

If you want to protect the eardrum from excessive pressure produced by the gunshots, I recommend Howard Leight Impact Sport. They come with a slim profile that cannot affect a hunter’s cheek weld when undertaking a long shot.

 

 

Fairly priced

The product is fairly priced although their price is much higher than that of regular ear muffs or normal earplugs. However, they provide greater performance compared to other cheaper form of electronic hearing protection out there.

So, apart from protecting your ears, they improve your hearing abilities as well. Most hunters prefer them because they are easy and simple to use as they have an adjustable headband.

While, the inbuilt NRR 22 decibels, provides hearing protection under normal circumstances, you can enhance extra protection by combining them with earplugs.

Also, they allow the hunter to have normal conversations with their partner. Consequently, the user can hear little sounds like that made by an approaching deer. They are ideal for both waterfall and big game hunting.

Pros

  • They come with comfortable ear pads
  • They are relatively affordable
  • Very comfortable
  • They offer decent protection at 22 decibels NRR
  • It is easy to connect to external MP3 players via AUX input for music
  • It folds well for easy storage
  • They are lightweight making easy to carry around
  • They have excellent design to help airflow
  • The volume knob allows hunters to adjust volume with ease

Cons

  • Not really good for music enthusiasts

 

2. 3M Peltor SV Tactical Pro Hearing Protector

2 black sets of 3M Peltor SV Tactical Pro Hearing Protector EarMuffs for hunting

Check Latest Price

This device is a comfortable design and has a noise reduction rate of 26 decibels.  It cuts down all the unwanted sounds, as well as amplifying low sounds while you can still hear background sounds.

They are simple to fold around the cups making it compact and easy to store. Also, the adjustable headband features allow users to adjust to their desired sizes and fittings.It comes with soft ear cushions and a deep earcup design that provides comfort when worn over long hours. They are ideal for airport ground personnel, forklift drivers, industrial workers, and maintenance mechanics.

 

Pros

  • It has an enhanced noise reduction rate of 26-30 decibels
  • Fits very well and are comfortable
  • Has a low-level noise amplification
  • They are very diverse, so you don’t have worry about gun calibre
  • They have smart listening capability for a good sound quality
  • It comes with an auto shutdown function to save battery life

Cons

  • They are simple to use but a bit bulky

 

3. Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Muff

Purple-Colored set of Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Muff for hunting

Check Latest Price

This product works really well compared to other options in the market. They have high range definition speakers that produce a superior sound.

Even though they have a higher noise reduction rating stand of 23 decibels, you can still hear sounds from outside the muffs. This sound is directed to the ear through the alumni directional microphones at a delay of .02 second.

The user can easily control the volume even when wearing gloves as it is featured with a ridged off and on control model. The razor slim Electronic Muff has the AAA batteries than prolong its battery life.

Pros

  • It has a noise reduction rate of 23 decibels
  • It has low profile ear cups
  • They have a slim design making it easy to a carry
  • Made good quality material
  • It has mini directional microphones
  • They have a good battery life

 

Cons

  • The HD speakers can be really loud if not regulated

 

4. Honeywell Sync Wireless Ear Muffs

A set of Honeywell's Sync Wireless Earmuff for hunting

Check Latest Price

The Honeywell Sync Wireless garget allows the hunter to talk and work wirelessly, ensuring safety to theirears. It is also possible to connect with other Bluetooth devices for calls and music.

The microphones are effective in noisy and louder environments as it picks only the voice of the user, thus ensuring clarity in the audio output. This device can also rotate to your back to avoid destruction when not in use.

The headband is made of tough steel that improves its durability hence its overall lifespan. Also, the ear cups and the headband have added padding for comfort and extra protection.

This hearing protection model limits the sound output to 82Db, thus protecting the headphones. It also comes with the airflow technology, which ensures noise is well managed across all frequencies.

The 32Db rating of SNR and a 25Db, NRR ensures proper hearing protection for you to continue enjoying your work and hobbies.

Pros

  • It has a noise reduction of NRR 25Db
  • They can connect with wireless devices
  • It has a playback time of up to 16 hours
  • The microphones can easily rotate
  • Very good noise blocker
  • Excellent for music lovers
  • The headband steel increases the durability of the headphones
  • Made of quality material

Cons

  • The wireless connection might fail between a long distance

 

5. Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Electronic Hearing Protector

A Pair of Black Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Electronic Hearing Protector for hunting

Check Latest Price

This gadget offers the highest flexibility as you can easily connect to your audio device or phone through wired or wireless connections. While it is ideal for connecting your devices through Bluetooth for a wireless experience, you can switch to an audio cable when you need a more reliable connection.

The device comes with adjustable features to fit different head shapes and sizes. The headband has ventilations inform of cutouts to give you comfort when hunting for long hours. Also, the rubberlike shell texture around the ears provides a comfortable seal around your ears.

This gadget applies the dynamic suppression time to measure the energy of each gunshot noise to set the suppression time, which eventually reduces echoes, thus increasing overall comfort. Based on the NRR, the device protects 26Db, which is an ideal range for you to enjoy shooting or hunting at the range.

By using the device, you have the option of switching between the 2 AA batteries and the Li-on rechargeable battery. You can, therefore, choose the charging option that fits your needs. Also, you can replace your AA batteries when they run out of power or recharge your rechargeable battery to save more time ad money.

The lightweight design and the low profile of these headphones ensure no distractions when shooting. Also, thee cut out design provides a resting place for the gunstock at the lower part of the ear cup. This design allows the aiming down of the gun with the stock without a feeling of awkwardness.

Pros

  • It provides flexible battery options
  • It supports both wired and non-wired connections to your audio devices
  • It has durable microphones
  • It gives a playback time of up to 42 hours
  • Has hearing protection of NRR, 26 Db

Cons

  • You might experience occasional echo

 

6. WULFPOWERPRO Bluetooth Ear Muffs

A piece of blue colored wulfpowerpro ear muff for hunting

Check Latest Price

These earmuffs provide you with hearing protection in all noisy environments. You can also perform activities like landscaping work, lawn mowing, and machine operation without risking your years to induced hearing loss.

These earmuffs have an NRR rating of 29 Db, which provides very high noise protection. The NRR from this device is tied with the Mpow HP102A.

This device supports FM radio, which is a unique feature of it. There is, therefore, the best choice for people who like listening to their favorite radio when carrying their everyday chores. You don’t need to connect to a device as it has a high sensitive inbuilt antenna and a channel memory which allows you to access your programs by scanning your radios frequencies.

This earmuff allows you to have a wireless or a wired connection to your phone. You can choose to connect with either your Bluetooth or a standard jack cable for a wired connection. Additionally, Bluetooth syncing will allow you to connect two different devices at the same time.

Pros

  • It offers the highest hearing protection
  • It provides flexible options for wireless and wired connections
  • It can connect two different devices at the same time via Bluetooth
  • It has a playback time of around 10 to 12 hours
  • It has a voice that produce alerts

Cons

  • Has many features that might confuse a novice user

 

7. Mpow HP102A Bluetooth Ear Muff

1 piece of black Mpow HP102A Bluetooth Ear Muff for Hunting

Check Latest Price

This earmuff comes with soft ear pads and PU leather that is friendly to the skin. It offers a comfortable snug fit since the earpads rest easily around the ears.

Also, it features an adjustable headband that accommodates users of different head sizes and shapes. This feature allows the headphone to distribute its weight which eventually reduces pressure on the head.

This headphone reduces noise to its lowest level, the reason why it has an SNR rating of 36Db, and an NNR rating of 29Db. Also, the foam pads offer a tight fit around the ear, ensuring blockage of excess noise into the year.

This device features precise controls and buttons that allow you to navigate and adjust to your desired audio connections and volume. You can also answer your calls when necessary.

As a user, you have the option of connecting your audio device or mobile phone via a 3.5mm audio input or Bluetooth. This flexibility allows you to connect your devices to your preferences.

Pros

  • It offers a playback time of 30 hours continuously.
  • Is has an adjustable headband
  • The PU leather and the soft foam ear pads provide comfortability
  • It supports both wireless and wired connections to audio devices
  • It offers hearing protection of NRR to 29 DB and SNR of 36 DB.

Cons

  • It may not provide maximum hearing protection if worn wrongly

 

Here’s Factors to Consider when Choosing the Best Electronic Hearing Protection for Hunting: A Buyers Guide

The above recommendations can be a great place to start for beginners. Also, you should consider the following factors before buying a hearing protector.

Noise Reduction Rating

The main function of hearing devices is to reduce noise from the outside environment. Always ensure that the noise reduction rating is included in the description. The NRR measurement determines how well the hearing protection device protects against excessive sound levels. This higher rating is also ideal for people with sensitive ears, damaged areas, or those exposed to high levels of sound.

Ear Muff’s Size and Weight

The electronic muffs should be compact and less bulky. The cup needs to be to its minimal size to accommodate most users.

You can find ultra-slim cuffs on the market although they might be expensive. Another factor to put into consideration is the head size. However, these devices are unisex and can, therefore, accommodate a wide range of measurements.always go for earmuffs equipped with an adjustable band because they will help you to get the smallest or the largest size to fit your needs.

Comfortability

Important features contribute to comfortability include, the texture of the foam that makes the headband and also the weight of the headset. Very tight ear muffs do not offer comfortability and may result in neck ache, headache or slip offs when less expected.

Electronic earmuffs come in square, oval, and rectangular shapes. Users feel better on one form than the other.

The Cost

Electronic ear devices are very much affordable. Also, make sure you get the value for money when you go for the expensive category. At this stage, you can always experiment with the cheaper ones before upgrading to the most expensive ones.

Key Additional Features

You should target those devices with additional features like convenience, comfort, and protection. Other detailed additional features include; building a microphone, antimicrobial materials to prevent allergic reactions since the device will be against the skin.

Water Resistance – Ear muffs that are water-resistant are durable as they can withstand harsh weather conditions and any other form of dampness that may be caused by sweating. Prolonged exposure of these devices to moisture may reduce their functionality.

Foldable Ear Muffs –foldable devices are easy to carry around as they also occupy less space. It also means that they are not prone to breakage when bent accidentally.

Microphone – devices that come with microphones allow you to connect to other external audio devices. You can switch to your favorite channels.

Color choices – Although black is the common color of muffs, manufacturers have now produced different colors to fit your style and preferences.

Protective Case – Every user needs a protective case to store your device or to protect it when traveling.

Warranties, guarantees, and return policy

For you to feel confident, you need to ensure that return policies and guarantees are included in the purchase. This policy should indicate the actual dates when these policies expire.

7 Best Thermal Scope for Coyote Hunting 2021

A man holding one of the best thermal scopes for coyote hunting

Coyotes are fast-moving scavengers. They naturally camouflage making it hard to hunt them in daylight. The use of an excellent thermal scope work best at night to overcome this nature. Also hunting can never be fun with the use of wrong devices.

A thermal scope helps the hunter to see things clearly at night and over long distances. A good optic should show a clear picturein the dark to help you hit on moving objects. Some have extra features that enhance your shooting accuracy.

People unfamiliar with technology find it hard to make the right choice of the best thermal scope. For starters, some hunters are not sure as to whether thermal scopes are legal or for military use only. Is it legal to hunt coyote with a thermal scope? Well, this guide will help you choose a thermal optic tool that will meet your shooting needs.

How does a Thermal Scope Work?

Animals such as hogs, deer, and coyotes emit a certain amount of heat at night, invisible to the human eye. Thermal imaging sensors can easily detect this heat. Thermal imaging sensors can detect a hidden animal by creating a heat map based on the animal’s heat signature.

The surrounding environment of an animal carries some degree of heat. The thermal imaging differentiates between the temperature in the surrounding of that of the animal. The lens, inside a thermal scope, receives the heat signature of the target image. Based on the scanned signature, a thermogram The viewer can see the thermogram through the thermal scope.A thermal scope can work through haze, smoke, and debris.

Although thermal scopes are expensive,there are varieties to choose from depending on your needs. So, what is the best thermal scope on the market? Well, I will answer that by recommending at least 7 best night vision scopes that are highly effective for coyote hunting.

Below is a list of the best thermal scope you can find in the market.

1.Trijicon Teo REAP-IR Mini

 

A pair of black Trijicon teo reap-ir mini thermal rifle scope for coyote hunting

Check Latest Price

This scope resembles a military-grade scope. People familiar with AN/ PAS-13 thermal gadgets from the US military find this scope perfect because it is relatively light. They also find it perfect because they can easily navigate settings bymany stick control thumbs.

The REAP- IR Mini enables an individual to engage targets in any kind of light as it gives a continuous day-night transition from a single quality optic. The optic uses a 640 by 480 sensor, a 12-micron cutting edge to provide clear thermal images to civilian shooters.

This thermal scope has all the features that a civilian shooter expects to find on a high-end optic. The REAP –IR Mini has a unique edge to detect mode that you cannot see anywhere else. This unique detect mode helps outline downrange targets, which reduce image brightness, preventing night blindness in the targeted environment.

REAP-IR, like Trijicon, produces rugged and dependable optics. This gadget must go through military standards for testing and design. The 6061 aircraft grade of aluminium provides upto one-meter waterproof protection to the REAP-Mini.

It is also easy to get close to nocturnal targets because of the 8x digital zoom, which comes with the REAP-IR optic. There are five different reticle designs in the market. The Picatinny rail amount feature makes it perfect for some modern sporting rifles and AR-15.

Hunters describe it as alightweight thermal scope for AR15 coyote hunting.

Pros

  • Great for the outdoor enthusiast
  • Easy to use

 

2. Pulsar ThermionXP50

A side-by-side pair of black Pulsar ThermionXP50 thermal scope for coyote hunting

Check Latest Price

The best long-distance thermal scope available on the market is the Pulsar Thermion XP50. The thermal imaging sensor has a high quality cutting edge and germanium optics that provide 2000 yards detection range when combined even in total darkness.

Pulsar has a reputation for producing sharper, more precise, and detailed FOV, and Thermion XP50 does not disappoint. This feature enables one to identify targets more easily. Through thermal optic, the images are sharp enough even at long ranges.

It is easier to change between colours from colour palettes for more enhanced viewing. Through Thermion XP50, it is easier to store videos and thousands of still images from a digital recording.

It is perfect for coyote hunting as it has a rugged and lightweight metal that can withstand wet and harsh weather conditions. It can also mount upto 30mm scope rings on a riffle. The Thermion XP50 can recoil up to 375 H&H for hefty calibers and 12 gauge for shotguns.

Optics Warehouse describe Thermion XP50 as remarkably built with a state-of-the-art design and latest technological advancements.

Why Pulsar ThermionXP50

  • A recoil activation
  • Consists of 13 electronic reticles
  • Digital zoom, double streaming to your microphone

 

3. FLIR ThermoSight Pro PTS 536

A pair of 2 black FLIR ThermoSight Pro PTS 536 thermal scopes for coyote hunting

FLIR, packed with high tech features and lightweight thermal riflescope. This thermal scope comes with a high definition FLCOS display and Boson Core Sensor that helps in delivering sharp and clear images in both total darkness and low contrast daylight.

ThermoSight Pro helps in capturing the best hunting moments through activated video recording. If you are looking a memorable hunting experience, use ThermoSight Pro PTS 536 to store 1000 still images or record a video of upto 2.5 hours.

It is easy to personalize ThermoSight Pro features by using different colour pallets, reticle colours, and reticle types. It also has a digital compass, an inclinometer, and a range finder technology.

Surprisingly this compact optic is ragged despite it weighing less than  1.5 pounds. The ThermoSight Pro consists of a durable aluminium body that can withstand bangs, drops, and bumps in the field without skipping a beat.

Tactical shooters and hunters are eagerly waiting for the quick release of Picatinny rail, making it easier to swipe out optics when the need arises.

Benefits

  • Superior value
  • Advanced image processing features

 

4. ATN ThOR 4

A pair of 2 black ATN ThOR 4 rifle thermal scopes for coyote hunting

The ATN ThOR 4 is packed with high tech modern features, although it has a traditional look of a rifle scope. It comes with an internal dual-core processor that increases thermal sensitivity after reducing image pixelation, enabling it to produce sharp contrast images, even in dark environments.

The ThOR 4 also comes with a ballistic calculator for reading humidity and temperature. It also shows and calculates angles to target adjustments, shifting the burden of calculations to the installed calculator. Therefore no need for having a paper, a pen, and a different calculator.

It can keep a record of multiple weapon profiles despite the weapon used and even giving specific reading every time it is needed. It also works on tough long-range shots perfectly.

The ThOR 4 also records internal videos where you can stream high-resolution videos to a mobile phone and, at the same time, store it on an SD card.

This compact can withstand tactical conditions and rough hunting due to its durability.  Its battery does not last long despite having an ultra-low profile.

Why ATN Thor 4

  • A ballistic calculator
  • A dual-stream video recording
  • An extra sensitive Gen sensor which is a unique feature

 

5. TheOpticGuru Thor LT Thermal Scope

two black pairs of TheOpticGuru Thor LT Thermal Scopes for coyote hunting

Budget-conscious shooters and beginners have found the optic guru to be relatively cheap compared to other thermal optics. This thermal scope lacks high tech features like ballistic calculations and wifi streaming. However, it focuses on the most critical matters of detecting heat from the target object through the fog, smoke, vegetation, and total darkness.

This optic is made of hardened aluminium alloy, making it durable. It is also rugged and dependable, where it resistant to higher calibre weapons due to its recoil. The theOpticGuru Thor LT provides the best value for money.

Why TheOpticGuru Thor LT

  • Affordable
  • A heat detection sensors
  • A traditional design
  • Uses minimum power to perform to the maximum
  • Lighter

 

6. Armasight by FLIR Predator 640

the side and front look of two black Armasight by FLIR Predator 640 thermal scopes for coyote hunting

This scope represents the latest uncooled FLIR core technology and Tau 2 VOx microbolometer from America. It can work in the snow, dust, smoke, and atmospheric humidity and detest downrange targets.

It features various colour modes, digital zoom, video recording, wireless remote control, and a warranty of 10 years. These features are consolidated in a compact, just like a shooter wants it.

The Predator 640 is easy to install and user friendly even to beginners, therefore controlling the market. It has a locking mechanism that is compatible with MIL-STD-1913, Picatinny rails, and weaver.

Why Buy FLIR Predator 640

  • A FLIR thermal imaging camera
  • Operational time extends through the operation battery feature
  • A three-year warranty and upto ten-year warranty on FLIR detector

 

7. Trijicon Teo SNIPE-IR Clip-On Thermal Sight

upclose look of a pair of black Trijicon Teo SNIPE-IR Clip-On Thermal Sight for coyote hunting

This clip-on Thermo from Trijicon has a simple design, but that does not mean that it has fewer features. The SNIPE-IR has a top-quality best optical features and a 640-680 sensor. It produces clear, crisp, and high-resolution images, even in absolute darkness. It can also be used as a standalone thermal monocular or as an independent sight.

The Trijicon SNIPE-IR is tough and can withstand harsh weather and rough use because it made of aircraft 6061 aluminium grade. It is one meter protected from water damage. It has other great features like image capture, easy thumbstick controls, and a Visrelay Collimating optic that ensures your daytime optic is a seamless operation.

The No Shot Zero sight in SNIPE-IR attracts many users and non-users as it makes it user friendly.

Verdict

  • Easy to use
  • Best for the outdoor enthusiast

What to Consider when Choosing the Best Thermal Scope for Coyote Hunting: A Buyer’s Guide

Some of the most important factors to consider before buying a thermal scope include;

Weight and Size

The internal technology installed in a new scope can make it weigh more than a traditional one. You should consider the size and weight of your thermal optic, especially if you have to carry your rifle through long distances of dense woods and rough terrain.

An excellent thermal scope should be compact and also weigh less for easy portability when hiking.

Durability

The materials determine the thermoscope durability.   The use of poor quality material means that the thermal scope will wear out very fast. Aluminium is the only material that can withstand adverse weather and rough activities.

Color  Options

Many other thermal scopes come with vibrant coloured images, although many also offer white and black options. They display heat signatures as lighter or darker on a greyscale. The monochromatic photos do not excite the eyes but are friendly to the eyes, especially in total darkness.

The setting colouring feature in some models enables you to choose your favorite color or select a brighter colour for easier identification. You can also choose black and white when working in a misty environment.

Battery Life

A thermal scope with miserable battery life may disappoint when you are ready to shoot a coyote. To avoid this, you should check on the battery life of a riffle before purchasing. A good battery should last the whole night.

Detection Range

The range at which your device can detect heat signatures from animals and objects is essential. Devices have different detection capabilities. The range of your optic should be lower than that of your riffle because thermal imaging technology has a shorter detection range.

Magnification

Some of the available thermal scopes give upto 16 times magnification while others do not have this feature. Magnification is either digital or optical, while its level depends on the shooting pursuits.

A thermal scope with an optical magnification will produce an image of high quality when zoomed to the highest levels.

Digitally magnified images will produce blurred images at maximum levels because they use software to expand an in-camera image.

Cost

The technology concerning thermal imaging is expensive, such that prices add up to five figures. It is rare to find one priced under the 100,000 dollars.

This price may seem expensive to some people, but it was much higher than this a few years back. With improved technology, these prices will be much lower and affordable in the coming years. To get a quality thermal scope, you have to be willing to dig deeper into your pocket.

Reticle Options

Reticles help at aiming accurately to the object as it is in the form of markings and patterns inside a scope. Reticle designs can either be centre dots or simple crosshairs that elaborate MIL-dot configurations.

It is easier to choose a design that you prefer or the one that suits the task at hand from the several pre-programmed reticles with a high-end thermal scope.

Some thermal scopes have one reticle, while some do not have.  Before settling on anythermal range, make sure that the reticles suit your shooting needs.

Ease of Use

A thermal scope should be easy to operate and handle. The interface that it comes with it should be easy to operate. Also, the additional camera features should not make it hard to perform the imaging camera’s core functions.

It should have at least three buttons that allow different functions to avoid going through the whole process by using a single switch when you need to perform a different purpose.

Also, it should have a minimum number ofbuttons to avoid confusion when hunting, as it can be frustrating.

Screen Resolution

The digital technology in thermal scopes digitally displays viewable images. The screen resolution determines the clarity of your pictures. When your photos are clear on your thermal scope, it means your images will also be clear. Low-resolution screens will make it difficult to achieve specific targets even though you may be using an excellent scope sensor.

Some thermal scopes come with in-built software that facilitates easy pixelation for the production of more detailed images.

You should invest in a high-resolution thermal scope. Thermal imaging’s primary use is to make it easy and quick to spot an object or an animal. This technology lacks a detailed night vision standard, which can make it hard for hunters when shooting. Higher device resolutions make it easier for hunters to make effective and quick shots.

Other Important Features

It is wise to invest in thermal scopes that come with extra features like extra bells and whistles. These are fancier models that you may opt to based on the price tag.

Others include; ballistic calculators, digital compasses, wifi streaming, GPS location, laser rangefinders, and recoil activated videos.

7 Best Dog Foods For Hunting Dogs 2021

What is the Best Dog Food for Hunting Dogs?

Hunting dogs have high energy levels than the usual pets. These scent hounds, gun dogs and or bird canines need special treatment even though they are of the same breed. The best dog food for hunting dogs contains optimum levels of fat and protein, keeps them healthy and helps them perform well.

The sporting dog food you choose should contain micro-nutrients that support digestive and immune system, promoting healthy joints and bones for these sporting dogs. The best diet should digest slowly to keep your canine energized. It is essential to allocate enough time for researching the best type of food for your hound.

You should account for the time and amount you feed your hunting dogs to avoid some of the health problems. Hunting canines are different, and their diet should match the number of hours that the active dog is working.

 

1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness

Check Latest Price

Wolves, excellent hunters inspire the diet. Blue buffalo wilderness is perfect for growing hunting puppies that require lots of energy to run, swim and play. A puppy fed on this diet becomes a dependable hunting canine as it helps it in building endurance.

It is Chicken Recipe for Small Breed adult dogs

This formula consists of deboned chicken, which is delicious and also a source of protein. The protein content is 30%. The recipe also features turkey meal, chicken, and an egg, which helps in building muscles. The diet is excellent for puppies because it is grain-free. It satisfies the dogs’ love for meat.

This formula helps in maintaining lean muscle mass for your hunting dog. Other healthy carbohydrates like carrots, peas, and potatoes satisfy your dog’s inner wolf. It is a hunters special dog food.

This diet contains phosphorus and calcium, which are essential vitamins for the development of healthy bones. Also, it includes antioxidants that help in fighting diseases. It features DHA, a vital fatty acid available in the milk of a nursing dog mother. DHA is essential for cognitive retinal function and its development.

Grain-free diet

It also contains fatty acids like omega 6 and 3, which promotes a shiny and healthy coat and maintains strong teeth and healthy bones. However, you should observe your puppies make sure they don’t get sick because some are allergic to chicken.

This diet is the best choice for all canines and breed sizes with specific diets and weight management. It is the best choice for dogs that need grain-free food rich in protein or free of wheat, corn, or soy. Interstingly, if your dog is diabetic just try the Wolf Dreams, ‘Blue Buffalo.’

Customers who use this dog food product note “Blue Buffalo  Wilderness make sporting dogs have an amazing skin and hair.”

Pros

Contains chicken protein

It is a grain-free formula

It contains added calcium

Cons

Try to minimize this product, if your dog is experiencing stomach problems.

2. Solid Gold High Protein Dry Dog Food

Check Latest Price

Solid Gold Dog food is a holistic sport dog dry food that’s nutritious and tasty, suitable for all breeds and sizes of sporting dogs. Therefore, it is appropriate where there are puppies, adult dogs, and overweight dogs. With a protein content of 38%, it is ideal for fuelling hunting dogs and satisfying their unique nutritional needs.

Contains quality meat

The formula also contains high-quality real meat, which provides proteins and a whole egg that provides amino acids that ensure that your hunting dogs have healthy active metabolism and lean muscle development.

Nutritional carbohydrates

It contains moderate levels of calories and carbohydrates. The 16 nutrient-packed superfoods, in it, acts as the best diet for your pets. The fiber and proteins in the diet help maintain gastrointestinal health as it is packed with fiber and proteins such as Salmons glam, quail, and venison. The rich fiber is protected by probiotics, which ensures that they stay viable and alive before consumption for your pet to achieve a healthy digestive gut. Coldwater salmon added supports healthy muscle development. 

Omega acids 

The formula contains both omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which provide a better immune system and improves the dog’s skin and coat. It comes with several recipes that are easy to choose from, and also, the dogs can adjust to it quickly. 

The varieties to choose from include duck, buffalo, salmon, and krill meal. It is a grain-free diet that does not contain artificial colors, soy, preservatives, wheat, or corn.

Customers have noted that hunting hounds have a greta liking of the Solid Gold Dog food because of the “extra veggies and vitamin-filled fruits.”

Pros

Contains a healthy blend of calories and fats

Healthy digestion aided by probiotics

Includes cold water salmon in the 38% of protein

Contains antioxidants from 16 superfoods

Cons

The protein level in this product is high. Therefore, recommend for active puppies

3. Orijen Original

Check Latest Price

This brand is a favorite of many sport dog owners because of its taste and high-quality protein sources that you’ll get with this brand of food. It contains real ingredients, vegetables and fruits, real meat, and no grain fillers, wheat, and artificial ingredients. 

This diet contains whole eggs, flounder, deboned chicken, deboned turkey, and mackerel. Therefore, it provides foods rich in minerals, carbohydrates, and vitamins, all of which are essential for an active dog.

The food is suitable for active hunting dogs that ran and hunt all day long due to its high protein percentage. The formula is tasty, and many sport dogs enjoy their tastes because of organ meat and cartilage in the food. You can as well mix with old dry kibbles when introducing to your pup for the first time to diversify the quality of protein that your dog is going to get to help them be as healthy and happy as possible.

The diet contains a good source of fruits and vegetables, like kale, apple and carrot, which are good sources of phytonutrients that are good for your dog’s health.

A gun dog owner remarks the following about Orijen Original, “it has a probiotic element and glucosamine and chondroitin” making it palatable even to the pickiest of dogs.

Pros

The formula Contains real meat, veggies, fruits, and eggs.

Does not contain grains

It has many ingredients

Cons 

It’s a high-quality product, the product might cost you more

 

4. Purina Pro Plan SPORT Formula

Check Latest Price

This formula is ideal for hunting dogs that train a few times a week to achieve good results. These formulas feature fine-tuned protein to fat ratios to support different levels of activities and are ideal for all life stages. 

Performance 30/20 formula

It is easier to choose from a variety of different packages available for Purina Pro Plan Sport Formula. It contains 30% protein and 20% fat hence commonly known as a 30/20 formula. These percentages help in building lean muscle mass and also help in metabolism. The amino acids help in muscle nourishment when a dog is fed after exercise.

 Added glucosamine helps to strengthen joints and mobility. The varieties to choose from include chicken, salmon and rice, and turkey that contain flavors, grains, artificial colors, corn, wheat, or soy. 

It contains an easily digestible formulathat helps in nutrient absorption. This formula is suitable for dogs with strong stomachs. However, those with sensitive stomachs will need additional food with less processed ingredients.

The salmon formula contains more omega-3 for your dog’s skin and coat, it leaves the dogs with shiny coats, bright eyes, good muscle tone and they like it. I recommend this for any active dog below the age of nine. 

I receommed Purina Pro formula if you are concerned about your sporting dog having “a beautiful skin and coat, bright eyes, sharp instincts, and great field performance.”

Pros

No colors or added flavors

Have different sizes

Best served after exercising

Contains a 30/20 formula

Cons

It might cost more but my puppies love it.

 

5.Victor Super Premium Pet Food Hi-Pro Plus

Check Latest Price

This sporting dog dried food formula contains 88% of protein, from pork, fish, chicken, and beef meal sources. It is a scientific and nutritional balance that supports high performing dogs with their daily needs of energy. 

The 20% fat provides the dog with enough energy. Each cup of this meal contains 406kcal of calories. It is mostly fed on nursing females or pregnant females and puppies.

The formula also contains essential micronutrients that keep your dog healthy. The omega oils ensure healthy skin and immune system, while selenium yeast helps the dog fight diseases by maintaining a healthy metabolism. 

The mineral content helps in maintaining the paw pads, while the probiotics and prebiotics help support a healthy digestion system. 

Interestingly, American Sentinel endorse the use of Victor Classic Hi-Pro-Plus formula on sporting dogs citing it “has a great ingredient profile.”

Pros

It contains 88% of chicken, pork, or premium quality beef.

Best for sporting pups and others who are physically active

High nutrients which support all growing stages of puppies and also pregnant and nursing females

It contains essential ingredients that promote a healthy digestive and immune system.

Fortified with minerals, protein, vitamins, amino acids, and essential fatty acids

Cons

small pets may find it difficult to feed on its bigger kibble size

 

6. Taste of the Wild Premium High Protein Dry Dog Food

Check Latest Price

This premium dry food contains 32% of protein, which is essential in building lean and healthy muscle. It also includes a higher percentage of energy, which is 370 kcal per each cup of serving. This diet fits a dog’s metabolism because it contains a grain-free recipe that is ideal for wolves.

This premium diet is recommended for your puppies until they reach adult height and weight. Roasted venison and roasted bison provides a type of protein that is easily digestive and flavored to entice the dog.  

It also provides complex minerals and vitamins that support the health of a hunting dog. Vegetables and fruits in the recipe contain antioxidants, which are also found in peas, blueberries, and sweet potatoes. They also provide selenium, vitamin E, and zinc, which are essential in providing a healthy immune system.

Pros

Roasted venison and bison give the diet a good taste

The smaller kibbles are suitable for little puppies teeth development 

High protein qualities for active pets

Contains amino acids and proteins for strong and lean muscles

No grain, wheat, corn, artificial flavors, or preservatives

Highly digestible vitamins and minerals

Scientifically safety protocols in production

Cons

best for highly active dogs 

 

7. Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Check Latest Price

This premium dried food contains sweet potato and buffalo as the main ingredients. Each cup serving contains 342 calories and 38% of protein. The glucosamine and chondroitin in it, helps in keeping the joints healthy and strong.  

The whole foods in the recipe have been designed for easy digestion. The omega oils also help to keep a healthy coat. Balanced minerals and vitamins maintain the overall health of a hunting dog. It is a grain-free diet and contains probiotics that ensure fiber remains viable before the consumption of a healthy digestive system. 

You can always trust anything that Chewy endorses for your hunting dog food. Chewy notes that Merrick “make this diet straight  from their own U.S kitchen using the best of ingredients.”

Pros

It is a grain-free meal with no gluten for easier digestion

The omega 3 and 6 fatty acids maintain the shiny skin coat

It has high levels of chondroitin and glucosamine for healthy joints and hips.

Cons

May not be suitable for animals with liver or kidney problems

What is a Good Hunting Dog Diet?

Fats

Hunting dogs need fats in their diet as a source of energy. This energy gives them the endurance that they mostly need. The amount of fats in their diet depends on how active they are. The amount can differ if it only hunts once or twice a month.

Calories

The activity levels of your dog should determine the number of calories in their diet. Hunting dogs need more calories than traditional pets during the day. If your pet hunts more often, it should be getting more calories, which supports this high energy level. 

Carbs

People overlook the importance of carbohydrates in a hunting dog’s diet. A few complex carbs should be included in a well-balanced diet. However, you should pay attention to these carbs’ sources because they determine the canines’ sugar levels. Brown rice and sweet potatoes are the best sources of carbs and avoid whole grains. 

Dog food can be canned or dry kibble

Canned foods

Dogs tend to love this type of food because it is high in protein and less in carbs. These cans preserve the diet hence reducing the number of preservatives in the formula. It is easily digestible and does not cause bloating. However, it is crucial to check on the labels as some brands may include harmful or non-beneficial ingredients and jellies.

Dry kibble foods

Dry foods have high nutritional values, suitable for dogs developing teeth, more comfortable to store, and affordable. It is the best food for the most active hunting dogs. However, the dogs get dehydrated very fast and may demand to be supplied with water more often.

You can achieve the best meal by mixing both wet and dry food. A combination of different ingredients prevents your hunting dog from getting used to one type of food.

Hunting Canines Need Special Diet

Hunting dogs belong to the canine world of athletes. They, therefore, need special diets to perform at their best and to be healthy. This specific diet should contain high levels of calories and moderate levels of fats and proteins.

The best hunting dog food should also contain micronutrients that promote their immune system and give a healthy digestive system. The formula also should strengthen healthy joints and strong bones.

A particular time timetable of when to feed your hunting dogs is necessary and the amount to avoid some of the health problems that may come up. 

Buyers Guide: What to Look For When Buying Hunting Dog Foods

Go for a whole meat diet and avoid meat by-products. Meat should be the main ingredient. It is easier to differentiate the entire meat diet from a meat by-product diet. The latter contains bones and does not include the name of any particular type of meat.

Look for a full meal that provides complete nutrition to your pets. It is easier to get this type of food from products approved by the Association of America Feed Control.

Consider the pros and cons of canned, raw, or dry food.dry food is more comfortable to store and affordable while canned, contain fewer preservatives, and hydrate. Fresh food becomes the best option for those who can get it frozen or prepare for themselves.

Aim at buying foods with no preservatives, and if they should have, it must be natural. The natural ones are vitamin c ( ascorbate) and vitamin E (tocopherols). Avoid BHT, BHA, and ethoxyquin.

Consider the safety of the foods on your retriever or flushing dog. For your best dog food for duck hunting dogs, ensure it is of the highest quality by checking on the brand and manufacturer to see if they meet your dog’s needs. You should not go for the most expensive diet as it is not always proportional to quality.

In the following video, the QBN Kennel in Cleveland, Texas reviews some of the best dog food that are suitable for your hunting dog.

 

Also Read: Best Dog Food for Hunting Dogs

 

Pheasant Hunting Tips

PHEASANT HUNTING TIPS
Besides being extremely fun to hunt, the meal that a pheasant hunt produces is as good as they come. Knowing about this popular upland bird will help you in the field and will also make you and your family very happy around the table this year.
Owner of THE BREAK, John Caldwell, shows-off a Hancock County, Illinois ringneck. Photo by Mike Roux

I like this topic. It never fails that when I put pen to paper concerning pheasant hunting, a broad smile crosses my face. I have more fun pheasant hunting and guiding pheasant hunts than any other type. I enjoy hunting other species more, but I don’t have more fun with them. It is amazing how a target that big and that slow can be missed so often.

I have chased these beautiful, long-tailed oriental transplants in Iowa, Missouri and Illinois. I have a special passion for N.E. Missouri pheasant. My first trip was exciting. My good friends, Jill and Steve Shoop, were kind enough to invite me on an opening day “bird hunt.” To me that automatically meant quail. Nobody bothered mentioning pheasant to me….until the first one flushed in my face. I hit that shot, but I have missed my share since then.

One of the reasons pheasant are so often missed is the desire most bird hunters have to harvest at least one bird like this each season. It is like the “bird hunters’ bonus.” Pheasant tend to bring out the once-a-year bird hunters. No other upland game has a hold on wing shooters like the pheasant.

Add to that the superb flavor of this game bird and the amount of meat that comes off this almost chicken-sized bird and you can easily see why it is so popular. A couple of pheasant breasts on the grill is enough to make any hunter “bird happy.”

The best thing about this big, tasty bird is its ever increasing availability.This bird is beginning once again to thrive in the croplands of Missouri and Illinois. We may not yet have pheasant numbers like Nebraska or South Dakota, but we are opening-up new counties almost every year. Our limits are not as liberal as those states with denser pheasant populations, however, I’m relatively sure that will come, probably on a county by county basis.

The ringneck pheasant is an immigrant to the U.S. that has become one of our most popular game-bird species. Photo by Mark Clemens

One thing that is helping pheasant re-growth is their ability to be reintroduced into “shot-out” areas or places where predation decimated them. This lets conservation departments utilize these birds to furnish supplemental hunting for its hunting license buyers and permits private landowners to stock their places with pheasant for fee shooting. Pheasant have the capability of becoming virtually as wild as their naturally reared counterparts within about 24 hours of their release. Few other “liberated” birds share that trait.

Pheasant can be frustrating to hunt. They will sneak through the brush and refuse to fly, preferring to run, and they often will not sit tight for pointing dogs. You must make the effort and take the time to condition your dog to these pheasant characteristics. It could save both you and your dog some embarrassing moments.

A king-sized rooster pheasant may weigh as much as five pounds, live weight, but the average is probably closer to three pounds. They have relatively short wings for this weight, which accounts for their slow take-off. Do not let them get lined-out though. Once a pheasant levels-off, they can fly at speeds of up to 40 miles an hour. Once they reach top speed they like to glide. This glide shot is tough for most shooters, because the bird is descending as it moves. This decent is not always noticeable as you swing for and lead your shot. If you want to get a good shot, you must learn how to pattern your shotgun.

The rule for wild pheasant hunting is “NO HENS.” You must shoot cocks only. On preserves you may harvest any bird. Even though it does not take a pheasant hen long to become wild after she’s been liberated, you may still harvest pen-raised hens on preserves. There is no mistaking the rooster though. His bright coloration, iridescent green head and long, streaming tail feathers make him unmistakable as he becomes airborne.

 

This pile of N.E. Missouri ringnecks came from Steve Shoop’s J&S TROPHY HUNTS. Photo by Mike Roux

The hen is a bird of a different color. Brownish and mottled, she is drab in comparison to the multi-colored cock and usually smaller. Young roosters who have not yet reached their full adult color phase may look a lot like hens. Early in the season, be sure of your target. Do not be fooled by a cackling bird that has been flushed. Sometimes hens cackle, too.

The two biggest problems we pheasant hunters face are finding a place to hunt and getting the birds in the air to shoot at. Most pheasant hunting is done on CRP land that lies close or next to grain fields. Because pheasants like this kind of crop cover, it can present more problems. Landowners, especially those who are raising crops, have become increasingly reluctant to give permission for hunters and dogs to traipse around their farms. And, if there is no grain crop, there most likely are no birds either. Also, many farmers develop not only proprietary interest in the birds they see every day, but they actually become fond of them as well. They do not want to see them shot.

So, unless you do your pheasant hunting on well-planned trips with guides, lodging and a place to hunt, your first step is to get to know a landowner. How each hunter gets permission to hunt private land must remain his own secret. I have very little advice to give, because I do not want to meet-up with you someday in a CRP patch I thought was mine. But here’s the key—If you treat a landowner as a friend or a business associate, and do not treat him like a “dumb hick,” you may find a door will occasionally open to you.

Once you have gotten permission to hunt, you now face the problem of finding the birds and getting them out of the cover they love. Those attention-attracting roosters everyone saw along the road scratching for gravel or feeding in a stubble field have suddenly disappeared. No other bird can be so visible one minute and so reclusive the next.

There is one sure-fire way to find pheasant, if they are there, and that’s with a dog. I have never hunted pheasant without dogs and never intend to. Another good reason for dogs is the pheasant’s toughness. Besides turkeys, they are the hardest thing to kill I have ever hunted. Recovering these birds once they are down is almost impossible without dogs.

Caleb Roux and Spencer Dietrich prove that at THE BREAK, pheasant hunting is also a young man’s sport. Photo by Mike Roux

Pheasant are famous for their unwillingness to fly until all other methods of escaping the hunter and the dog have failed. In comparison with most of the other upland birds, they have pretty short wings for their long length. But those legs are made for sprinting, and they use them.

When you find grain fields next to rough cover like marshes, creek bottoms, ditches or unmowed or unharvested strips of hay or grain, you have found the prime habitat these birds prefer. The birds stick to this heavy cover during the day. Pheasant start moving from their nighttime roosting places at dawn. They come out to dry-off and to pick gravel for their crops. That is why they are so often seen along the road in the early morning.

From here the birds spread out to feed with cornfields being their prime target. Standing corn is their favorite. This not only offers food, but the very best cover as well. Pheasant may spend their entire day in uncut corn. This makes them tough to find without dogs. You may educate yourself about the best flushing dogs in pheasant hunting.

I prefer to hunt this beautiful bird with dogs. There are flushing Labs and Springer Spaniels that do a great job with pheasant. There are also pointers and setters that have been trained to handle pheasant well. My personal favorite is the Brittany Spaniel. My pick-up could not hold all of the pheasant I have taken from the mouths of “Brits.”

Remember: Read Field Dressing Upland Game Birds

Dove Hunting Tips for Beginners

DOVE HUNTING TIPS FOR BEGINNERS

The traditional September first dove opener is almost certainly the single biggest opening day in the United States. It’s also one of the single biggest days for shotshell manufacturers, with millions of rounds expended against these speed demons.

A dove’s small size, speed and acrobatic flight all combine to make it one of wingshooting’s most difficult targets.

It’s said that one bird for five shells is a pretty good average. Usually, I can beat that, but add factors like a stiff breeze or birds that have already been shot at and one per five starts to look pretty good!

10 Tips For Better Dove Shooting

I just had a refresher course in missing doves in the grainfields of Sonora, Mexico. I was shooting with Alcamp (U.S. agent: Doug Mauldin, Derrydale Press, Lyon, Mississippi) near Hermosillo.

The doves were there in thousands, but so were extenuating circumstances: windy days and doves that had been shot at for months.

These were the most difficult doves I’ve shot at in years–and I won’t divulge my shell-to-bird ratio. But with Mexico’s higher bag limit and abundant birds, I did have a chance to relearn some old lessons.

Here are dove hunting tips for beginners:

1. Don’t be Overchoked

Due to their small size, doves are rarely as far as you think. Most shots are between 20 and 30 yards, and 40 yards is very, very far.

In most situations, you’ll drop far more birds with an Improved Cylinder or Skeet choke than with Modified or tighter. If your gun has interchangeable tubes, start with an open choke; you can always tighten up if the birds are flying high.

2. Use Good Shells

Generic “dove loads” are usually cheaper due to second-quality shot. Less-uniform shot means poorer patterns, and doves are small enough to be very unforgiving of holes in your patterns.

Buy good shells. Target loads are a good choice; they’ll cost a bit more, but chances are you’ll shoot fewer in filling your limit. Number 8 shot is generally the best choice.

Read: Shotgun Patterning: Why Do Hunters Pattern Their Shotguns?

3. Choose Your Ground Carefully

Doves will normally fly along definite terrain features; rarely do they enter or leave fields or go to water in a random fashion.

Treelines, fence lines, drainage ditches, even prominent individual trees, and shrubs are likely spots to take a stand.

Avoid spots surrounded by high vegetation where recovering downed birds would be difficult.

Don’t be too stubborn to move if it looks like birds are flying better down the line. But don’t crowd your neighbor–make certain you know exactly where any other shooters are, and make certain they know where you are.

4. Use Cover

Doves become wary as soon as the first shots sound. Pick your spot in some taller grass or weeds, so your silhouette is broken.

5. Mind Your Shooting Stance

If there’s enough cover so you can stand, all the better. Alternatively, bring a camp stool so you can sit comfortably and rise quickly if the cover is not enough.

If you have to hunker down on the ground, you won’t be in a comfortable position to shoot and you’ll lose some opportunities because it takes too long to stand up.

6. Don’t Commit Too Early

Under ideal circumstances, you can see doves coming a long way out. Stay still and let them come.

Pick your bird, then raise the gun, swing, and fire–all while the bird is in range. Raising the gun and tracking the birds too early invites unhittable acrobatics.

7. Stay Alert

It’s almost impossible to watch all directions, so pick the most likely direction for birds to fly and concentrate your attention there, understanding that you might miss out on the odd birds that do the unexpected.

Pay attention, swiveling your eyes back and forth across the horizon.

If more birds are surprising you by coming from behind, you may have missed the flight pattern, so don’t be reluctant to shift your focus.

8. Learn to Shoot Fast

On incoming birds, your best opportunity is to shoot them as they come in, with the shotgun at no more than a 44-degree angle to the ground.

Optimally, you should wait until the last moment, then raise the gun and fire as quickly as possible.

The ones that surprise you by coming from behind must be taken even more quickly; add in reaction time and such birds are out of range unless you can get on them fast.

Read: How to Become a Better Marksman

9. Mount the Gun Properly

I find that my second most common error comes from simply raising the shotgun and firing, without properly seating the gun to my shoulder and getting my head down on the stock–especially on those birds that seem to come out of nowhere.

Concentrate on mounting the gun smoothly and getting your head down on the stock as your eyes and hands begin swinging with the bird.

10. Don’t Be Afraid to Lead

Everyone is most likely to miss by shooting behind the bird. How much lead depends on distance, wind, and speed of the swing, so there are no absolutes.

But if you’re missing, chances are you’re either stopping your swing or not leading enough. Both mean you’ll shoot behind the bird.

On a windy day in Sonora, I found myself needing fully six feet of lead on crossing shots with the wind–and the birds weren’t all that far away!

My Experience

The scene of my first-ever dove hunt was one of those crowded fields where you have to root for a bird to get by everyone else so you can shoot it. The slow, the stupid and the unwary fell from the sky long before they got to within 100 yards of the knoll where I sat, partially hidden under the branches of a tree.

The doves I shot at streaked by with their eyes and their throttles wide open. Up to that day, the only birds I had ever seen over a shotgun rib were ringneck pheasants clambering up and away over the cornfields. Nothing in my experience prepared me for the stream of tiny gray bullets zipping overhead.

Experts, of course, brag about shooting a limit of doves “inside a box,” taking 10, 12 or 15 birds with one box of shells or less. So it’s my duty to tell you that on that very first dove hunt, 25 years ago, I easily bagged my limit inside a box.

Unfortunately, it was one of those big boxes that hold 10 smaller 25-round boxes of shells.

There’s no question doves make one of the toughest targets in the sky. Ammo companies estimate hunters shoot five times for each bird they bag. I’ve improved my average a good deal since that first hunt years ago. You can too.

Becoming a better dove shot began, of course, earlier this summer, when you put in your time shooting skeet and sporting clays (you did, didn’t you?). Nevertheless, the transition from clay targets to real birds can be a rocky one come opening day.

Dove Hunting Shooting Tips

It’s not so much that doves are fast; in fact, serious clay target competitors tell me they often shoot in front of live birds after a summer of clay birds. The problem is, clay targets fly straight paths while doves juke all over the sky.

Clay target shooting sharpens your hand/eye coordination and builds solid shooting form, but it can make you a little complacent, too.

After a summer of target shooting, when you look at the dove and judge its line of flight, you assume it’s going to keep going the same direction at the same speed. When the dove changes direction, it leaves your muzzle hanging in space, pointed yards away from where it needs to be.

What’s worse, many hunters treat smoothbores as if they were anti-aircraft weapons, mounting the gun, aiming down the rib and tracking the bird as it comes into range.

The longer you track a dove and the more carefully you measure your lead, the greater the chance you’ll slow or stop your swing or that the bird will dodge out of harm’s way. Instead, think “eyes to the target, hands to the target”–in that order. Lock your eyes onto the dove as it comes to you, but don’t budge the gun until you’re ready to shoot.

Rather than leaping to your feet while the bird’s still a way out, it’s often best to wait until the dove is right on top of you before making a move.

As you mount the gun, your first move should be with the muzzle, sweeping it along the dove’s line of flight and holding slightly below the bird so you don’t obstruct your view of the target.

Raise the butt as the muzzle moves with the target, and shoot the instant the pad hits your shoulder. It’s a short, compact move.

On the close shots, you won’t be aware of leading the bird at all; you’ll be shooting as the barrel passes the beak. If your eyes remain locked firmly on the dove’s head, your hands and the gun will follow to the right place automatically even if the dove pulls a last-second evasive maneuver.

On shots that require short leads, simply flick your eyes ahead of it at the last second, and the gun will follow.

Pretend the bird has a dollar bill in its beak, and make that your target.

Doves crossing in the distance require a slightly different technique. Rather than swinging through the bird, insert the muzzle ahead of it. You still move the barrel along the bird’s flight line as you raise the gun, but your target becomes an invisible, moving spot two or three feet ahead of the dove.

Don’t try to measure the lead; just get the muzzle out in front of it, and good things will probably happen.

Shooting Overhead Doves

Overhead doves present a shot that looks much more difficult than it actually is, and it impresses bystanders when you pluck a bird from what seems to be the stratosphere.

A dove over your head appears much farther away than it actually is, just as the moon looks huge when it’s touching the horizon yet seems smaller and smaller as it climbs into the open night sky.

The overhead shot used to give me fits, until the day I was fortunate enough to find myself crouched behind a levee at the edge of Uruguayan cornfield. Spot-wing pigeons (think “doves on steroids”) flew over me in waves, and I’d hide behind the levee until they were right overhead, then stand to shoot.

From that afternoon on, the overhead shot has been my favorite.

Most of the time, birds that are overhead don’t require much forward allowance at all. Swing the gun fast along its line of flight, and when the bird disappears behind the muzzle, shoot.

Don’t peek around the barrel at it to measure lead. Just blot the bird out, pull the trigger and keep swinging.

Do it right, and you’ll be rewarded with a gasp of awe from the onlookers, and a bird that folds cleanly and takes forever, it seems, to fall to the ground.

Recovery Tactics

Make sure your eyes stay on that bird as it falls and hits the ground. Downed doves can be difficult to find, and there’s no point in shooting birds you can’t recover. Marking fallen birds is a dove hunting skill as essential as hitting them in the first place.

Watch the bird fall, and don’t take your eyes off the spot where you saw it auger in. Your eyes will fix on a particular weed or tall stem. Walk straight to it without ever looking away, and don’t even think of shooting at another bird until you’ve recovered the one you just shot.

Also pay attention to where the birds killed by the shooters to your right and left fall. It’s much easier to find a dead dove if you have two separate fixes on its location and can triangulate.

While retrievers will find birds you cannot, get a good mark on the dove’s fall even if you have your dog along. Dogs don’t last long in the heat, and the rank greenery of late summer presents difficult scenting conditions for the keenest of noses.

The best dove hunt I was ever on took place in a field where the owner had planted scraggly strips of sunflowers spaced widely across bare, disked earth. When you dropped a dove, it fell to the ground with a little puff of dust. I don’t believe I lost a bird in two days of tremendous shooting.

Finally, recovering birds begins before you pull the trigger. If you don’t know where a bird will fall, or if you see that it will drop somewhere it will be difficult to find, don’t shoot. There will be another bird along in a minute.

Bonus Dove Hunting Tips and Tricks

Dove hunting may be more about shooting than hunting, but if you use a little field-craft to hide from birds, you’ll get easier opportunities. A dove that never knows you’re there is much, much easier to shoot than a bird making a wide detour around you. I would recommend you be attentive to the following bonus dove hunting and tactics.

Don’t silhouette yourself. Sit in the shadow of a tree, or kneel by a fenceline, or use a tall stand of corn or sunflowers to your back to break up your outline. Take a small portable blind or some camo netting to the field. Don’t stand until you’re ready to shoot.

Hide too well, though, and you can’t see the birds coming. On an Ohio dove hunt a few years ago, a friend and I sat in the shadow of a long strip of cut corn with the tall standing stalks at our backs for cover.

We were well hidden from the doves; the problem was when birds came in from behind us low over the tassels, we couldn’t see them until they flashed over our heads. Most of them were gone before we could react.

We left the standing corn, walked out into the middle of the cut strip and laid on the ground in the stubble, facing in opposite directions. The birds scooting in low over the ground never knew we were there until we sat up to shoot.

It was like a field duck hunt in fast motion, with birds coming in at every conceivable angle and flaring wildly if we missed with our first shot. I don’t think I killed my limit inside a box that day, but there was no time to count shells, and I was having way too much fun to care.

Becoming a better dove shot is, of course, a highly commendable goal, but it shouldn’t become an end unto itself. Let the other hunters hoard their ammunition, cherry picks the easy shots and brag about how much fun they had not shooting.

Dove hunting isn’t about bird-to-shell ratios, it’s a 21-gun salute to the promise of another fall. After all, who cares if it takes more than 25 shells to properly ring in the hunter’s New Year?