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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

dove hunting gear, man hunting doves with dog
Photo: Tim Donovan, Florida Fish & Wildlife

Dove hunting gear is simple to put together, once you know what you need.

Dove season is quickly nearing, and with that in mind, you’ve gotta make sure your kit is dialed for opening day. Our picks for dove hunting gear span the affordable to the aspirational. You’ll find plenty of things below that can help you feel prepared to fill your limits, whether you’re balling, on a budget, or balling on a budget.

From heat-beating clothes to shotguns to shades, we’ve got the dove hunting gear for you.

Dove Hunting Gear for Everyone

Shotgun

If you’re really starting from scratch, we have a few shotguns we’d love to recommend. Personally, I enjoy shooting a 20 gauge more than a 12, especially on longer days afield. They tend to be lighter weight for those long days in the pheasant field. Some folks will even go down to a 28, which can also be nice to shoot over a period of time.

But, a 12 gauge will get you a bit further out with your shot. So if you’re a stone cold killer, maybe a 12 is on the docket. Choose accordingly.

Style-wise, a pretty over-under is nice to shoot. But dove hunting with an extra round or two can be nice. Here are a few options for different budgets.

Retay Gordion Upland:12 Gauge— $949

dove hunting shotgun, retay

This is a newer model from Retay, and it offers 4 rounds. This semi-auto, though called an upland gun, will take you pretty much anywhere you need to go. Upland, dove, turkey, or waterfowl, a set-up like this can do it all. It comes with five chokes, and for under $1,000, this is a great option.

Franchi Instinct L: 20 Gauge — $1300

dove hunting shotgun, franchi

Franchi is a classic in the upland world, and this affordable Italian over-under is something I’d for sure carry into the dove field. This is a pretty gun, first and foremost, with a classy look and a standard over-under action. Note that over-unders can take a few trips to the field to feel smooth on the break. Shoot it a few times before you take it hunting.

Benelli 828U: 12 Gauge — $2600

dove hunting shotgun, benelli

If you’re wanting something more high-end, I’ve always loved shooting Benelli. And the 828u features all the high-tech options you’d want in a shotgun, from a customizable fit to recoil reduction to reduced weight, this would be the over-under I’d go for if I’m going to drop cash.

Bird & Shell Belt

Perhaps one of the most necessary pieces of equipment, your bird belt is where you stash both your shells, your birds, and if you’re like me, anything else your hands can’t seem to stuff anywhere else. La Croix in a coozy? Check. Phone now covered in dove blood? Oops. That too. Here are a few options that work great:

Gamehide Ultralight Gamebird Bag – $30

This affordable, lightweight bag uses mesh for better airflow. If you’re hunting in hot climates or on a budget, this is a decent buy.

ALPS OutdoorZ Deluxe Dove Belt – $70

If you want to level up durability and flexibility a bit, the ALPS OutdoorZ deluxe dove belt does just that. Pockets can be easily moved and a dedicated water bottle pocket will keep you hydrated over long days afield.

Shotgun Shells

Doves are hard to shoot. I know. I’ve missed a boatload of them. It’s kind of like upland hunting if it were a sped-up video game, where birds dive by in the flash of an eye and I’m left on my chair, blinking in wonder. So, suffice it to say, you need shot that can help you get the job done.

If you’re new to dove hunting, bring A LOT of ammo. A lot. You’ll miss liberally. 30-40 rounds a day is normal. Low brass 7 1/2 and 8 shot are high on the list for many hunters, but higher brass options can get you a little more distance on these tough, tiny birds.

Federal Ammunition’s Hi-Bird Series ($15-25, depending)

The Hi-Bird Series offers a solid swath of options for what you’re looking to shoot. Dense long-range patterns aid in the oft high-flying dove, and you can use any shells leftover from dove season for other upland birds as well.

Federal Ammunition’s Game Load Upland Heavy Field ($15-21)

A little more affordable, you’ll still have a similar pattern as the Hi-Bird, just a little less velocity. Both are great options, with 25 per package.

Federal Ammunition’s Upland Steel Gauge ($16-31)

An option for those of us who don’t like to (or can’t legally) shoot lead, Federal’s Upland Steel Gauge offers similar performance in steel payloads that won’t put a ton of lead into the environment. Personally, that’s my pick.

Lightweight Chair or Bucket

Ample downtime is not unheard of when it comes to hunting doves. And you’ll also likely be stationed at a spot for more than a little while. This means a lightweight chair or bucket comes in handy.

HME Swivel Seat — $10 (33% off)

If you’ve got the bucket, you might just need a cushion. The HME Swivel Seat offers that option, and it allows you a little bit of motion in the process. For $15 or less, your classic 5-gallon bucket is now a seat. How neat is that?

Kings River Field Dove Stool —$12 (25% off)

If you’d rather have something even lighter weight, this little folding stool is the same price as the swivel seat. And it offers a bit of storage underneath.

YETI Trailhead Camp Chair — $300

We’ve gotta add one bougie option, and YETI’s folding trailhead chair will make you dove field royalty. Or, at the very least, it will give you a super stable, nice place to sit.

Hearing Protection

Listen. Can you? If you can, it’s probably because you’ve been wearing ear pro. (Points to myself — a non-dad — for crushing a joke any dad would love.)

Anyway, I’m serious. Hearing protection, or ear pro, is key to saving your ears for your later years. Can it be hard to use when you just want to chat with your buds? Sure. But when the shotguns are singing, you’ll appreciate ear pro. 100%.

There are two main kinds of hearing protection, passive and active. Passive means that a pair of headphones is physically blocking sound, like if you put your hands over your ears. But, you know, more intentional. Active offers a battery component that uses tech to block sound and protect your ears. Active tends to be more comfortable but more expensive. Here are my picks.

Caldwell E-Max Power Cords — $110

I’ve used these for a few years now, and they’ve held up for me. What I love is that they’re a true Bluetooth headphone that doubles as an earplug. Since they’re corded, it’s hard to lose them. And they hold a charge for a decent amount of time. I have smaller ears and find these to be comfortable.

Banded Ear Plugs —$11 for 8

If you’re a caring friend or just forgetful like I am, this pack of banded ear plugs is the low-rent way of protecting your ears in the dove field. I’ve been known to leave my nice ear pro on the counter, so I keep these in my rig as a backup.

Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Earmuff— $48 (20% Off)

If you’re big on over-ear, this slim-fitting active earmuff is the way to go. It consistently has the highest reviews online, and its low-profile silhouette means you don’t double your head size when you wear it. The active noise-canceling feature still allows you to talk to folks around you while in use. Plus, it’s affordable.

Eye Protection

There’s a slim chance that a dove might fall out of the sky and blacken your eye, but there is a chance. But, there’s probably more of a chance that good eye protection simply helps you better acquire your target. However, it is paramount that whatever shades you’re wearing, they should be shatterproof. Just in case.

Smith Aegis Shooting Glasses — $80

smith aegis shooting glasses

If you’re shooting a lot, investing in a nice pair of protective glasses can be helpful. We love the Aegis from Smith.

Walkers Shooting Glasses – $7

These are super affordable, and the yellow lens will help with clarity for morning hunts. Don’t expect them to be more than what they are, and you’re good to go.

Other Gear That Comes In Handy

gerber shears

If you’re going on more of a DIY hunt, it might be useful to bring a few of your own decoys. Additionally, doves are so small that most folks simply use a pair of sharp shears to process them. We love Gerber’s Vital Take-a-Part shears for their affordability and ease of use.

Final Thoughts: Dove Hunting Gear

Dove hunting is a blast, and there’s nothing like a grill full of dove poppers at the end of the day. (Our friend Hank Shaw has the perfect recipe!).

We hope that this list helps you prep for your many season in the dove field, and happy hunting!


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Prosciutto Wrapped Dove Breast with Elk Sausage Roulade
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