What the hell do doves eat when theres no agriculture around?

Jonny360

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I moved to the high desert in Californias easter sierra 2 years ago. I'm starting to get back into hunting after not buying a license since my late teens. Back in the midwest we could always find doves moving in and out of fields eating wild marijuana seed or grain. Out here in the Bishop CA area we got pasture and scrub brush with scattered canals and water and some patches of wild sunflowers. I figured the sunflowers would be key but in early scouting I never really found any doves moving in and out of the sunflowers. There are doves around and you'd see them flying at dusk all before the season opened. But now that were a week in they are a lot harder to find. I have yet to figure out what the hell they are eating to try and help me narrow down my search for feeding and roosting places. We have lots of tree patches in and around the pastures and i've found some doves in the trees in the mornings, but I haven't found good concentrations. Anyone up in the high desert that can give me some advice on tracking down dove habits?
 

Shane

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They eat seeds. Native scrub brush and grasses produce seeds too.

That said, I'd hunt close to the water that's close to the roosting trees in the evenings.
 
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Jonny360

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They eat seeds. Native scrub brush and grasses produce seeds too.

That said, I'd hunt close to the water that's close to the roosting trees in the evenings.
Theres just so much water around. Seems difficult to find any flyways with so much water and so much scrub if thats what they are eating. Do people in high desert usually setup decoys and sit, or just spot and jump?
 

Broomd

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They eat seeds. Native scrub brush and grasses produce seeds too.

...
Exactly right. There are seeds everywhere, stating the obvious but it's how everything reproduces. This isn't lost on the doves. :)
 

Shane

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Theres just so much water around. Seems difficult to find any flyways with so much water and so much scrub if thats what they are eating. Do people in high desert usually setup decoys and sit, or just spot and jump?
If there's that much water in a desert, that's a blessing. In West Texas where I live, we have lots of little stock ponds and such scattered all over the otherwise dry terrain. The best dove hunting, especially in the evenings, is where there is water right next to trees that dove like to roost in. They are scattered far and wide during the middle of the day, out in ag fields and native brush pastures foraging for seeds of all kinds. If you have a grain field or a sunflower field adjacent to water and trees, that spot is GOLD for dove. But if you don't have the grain or sunflowers, water + trees in the same spot is 2nd best.

Set up decoys, including some Mojos, and sit and wait. Take friends. Dove hunting is a social event.
 
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Jonny360

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If there's that much water in a desert, that's a blessing. In West Texas where I live, we have lots of little stock ponds and such scattered all over the otherwise dry terrain. The best dove hunting, especially in the evenings, is where there is water right next to trees that dove like to roost in. They are scattered far and wide during the middle of the day, out in ag fields and native brush pastures foraging for seeds of all kinds. If you have a grain field or a sunflower field adjacent to water and trees, that spot is GOLD for dove. But if you don't have the grain or sunflowers, water + trees in the same spot is 2nd best.

Set up decoys, including some Mojos, and sit and wait. Take friends. Dove hunting is a social event.
Thanks, LA owns a ton of the area around us and put in canals to funnel all the water south. These last two years have been big snow years so they run the cannals high which then ends up with lots of standing water around as well. Don't get me wrong there are huge expanses of bone dry sage and sand. But there is still LOTS of water with all the canals running around. There is a spot a bit south I scouted a few weeks before opening that has a big canal by one side with lots of trees and sunflower patches, but to my surprise I hardly saw any doves in morning, or evening when I was looking there... but maybe i'll go check it out again since its been kinda quiet in my other spots.

I need to get one of these mojos I guess, i knew they worked for ducks but for some reason was skeptical for doves.
 

Shane

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Thanks, LA owns a ton of the area around us and put in canals to funnel all the water south. These last two years have been big snow years so they run the cannals high which then ends up with lots of standing water around as well. Don't get me wrong there are huge expanses of bone dry sage and sand. But there is still LOTS of water with all the canals running around. There is a spot a bit south I scouted a few weeks before opening that has a big canal by one side with lots of trees and sunflower patches, but to my surprise I hardly saw any doves in morning, or evening when I was looking there... but maybe i'll go check it out again since its been kinda quiet in my other spots.

I need to get one of these mojos I guess, i knew they worked for ducks but for some reason was skeptical for doves.
Dove are migratory birds. Sometimes they're in your area, and sometimes they're just not. If they're around, they'll be at that spot with the trees, water and sunflowers.

Mojos work great for dove. Put a few static decoys out, clipped to a dead tree or fence or something. Then put a Mojo or three nearby. Dove will swoop down over the decoys. The movement from the Mojos just makes it easier for them to see and notice the decoys, I think. Plus it adds some additional realism in the movement.
 

Shane

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Are there any whitewing dove in California where you are hunting? If so, if you have access to a place to hunt that's within 5 miles of a town or city, hunt there. The closer to town, the better. Whitewings seem to prefer to roost in town, for some reason. They're more like pigeons in their habits, I guess.
 
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Jonny360

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Dove are migratory birds. Sometimes they're in your area, and sometimes they're just not. If they're around, they'll be at that spot with the trees, water and sunflowers.

Mojos work great for dove. Put a few static decoys out, clipped to a dead tree or fence or something. Then put a Mojo or three nearby. Dove will swoop down over the decoys. The movement from the Mojos just makes it easier for them to see and notice the decoys, I think. Plus it adds some additional realism in the movement.
Does height in the tree matter? It seems generally doves sit in the highest dead branches in trees, do they get suspicious when they are clipped to the low branches I can reach? I'll have to pickup a mojo or two.

I've spotted morning doves and eurasians, haven't found any whitewings yet but supposedly they are around.
 

Shane

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For decoys, height of tree doesn't seem to matter. I've had good luck just breaking off a mesquite limb that's 6'-8' tall and sticking it in the ground in a good shooting lane. Clip a few decoys on that, throw up a Mojo or two nearby, and sit in the shade about 20 yards away. Decoys low to the ground simulate a feeding area, I think.

Wearing camo helps a lot. Keep your skin covered and don't wear bright colors. As long as your fairly well hidden and in a good spot, you'll get lots of shooting - IF there are birds in your area at the time.
 

Shane

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In Texas, there is no season or bag limit on Eurasians. Shoot all you want, as they're a non-native invasive species. Is it the same for them in California for them?
 
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Jonny360

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In Texas, there is no season or bag limit on Eurasians. Shoot all you want, as they're a non-native invasive species. Is it the same for them in California for them?
It is. So far the two ive shot this year have both been Eurasians. If I could get good at telling the difference in mid air would be fun to do some pre dove season shooting.
 

Oregon

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It is. So far the two ive shot this year have both been Eurasians. If I could get good at telling the difference in mid air would be fun to do some pre dove season shooting.
It is super simple. Morning doves tail feathers are sleek and long like a pintail duck.

Euro doves are bobbed and squared. Just look at the next doves you see and it will be readily apparent
 
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