There’s something rejuvenating about spending a misty morning or an evening with friends, watching doves dart across the distant horizon as the September sun sets over the prairie. Dove hunting reunites us with our passion for the outdoors and lifts our spirits after a dull off-season that can seem to last forever.
Flying doves can change direction on a dime, making hunting them a thrilling experience that’s hard to match. Dove hunting is one of the most fun and rewarding hunts out there, and part of that gratification comes from the challenge of the hunt.
Mourning doves are one of South Dakota’s most challenging game birds to hunt. It’s not that they’re particularly wary or that they have excellent senses. It’s simply because they are hard to hit. When you’re hunting doves, you’ll have plenty of shot opportunities – but many a hunter can easily burn through a box of shells with just a couple of birds to show for it.
When you hunt with us at Dakota Prairie Lodge & Resort, we’ll make sure you’re up to the challenge. By being in the right position and knowing the natural tendencies of these winged torpedoes, you’ll be much more likely to acquire a delicious spread of wild dove breasts for your next backyard barbecue.
Just like us, doves have their daily routines. Our expert local guides know those routines like the back of their hands, and they’ll help you use that knowledge to your advantage. Most dove hunting takes place at sun up, when the doves are coming off their roosts, or in the late afternoon, when the doves are looking for some sustenance prior to heading back to their roosts for the night. Our guides do their homework to make sure they know where the doves want to be.
When it comes to dove hunting, location is everything. A casual evening drive through the country is all it takes to confirm a prospective dove hotspot and plan out where the hunt should begin. That said, it’s also important to know the best areas to target along the way. Doves need a place to roost, a place to feed, and both grit and water to help with their digestion. When we find all these elements in close proximity, we have a consistent recipe for success.
In the early fall, during the dove hunting season, doves typically feed heavily. Their favorite source of food comes from freshly cut grain fields. While doves certainly like standing corn, soybeans, alfalfa, sorghum, sunflowers, and foxtail, they prefer it when any of these grains are lying on the ground. Fields that are currently being harvested can be particularly successful for hunts. Alternately cut rows will provide feed for the birds, while the crops that are still standing will provide cover and concealment for us to sneak up on the doves.
In terms of grit, dirt or gravel farm lanes provide an excellent source of grit that can help doves break down the hard seeds that comprise a large portion of their daily diet. Doves normally get their water from small streams or retention ponds. Finding a freshly cut grain field in close proximity to both of these elements is a veritable goldmine for dove hunting.
Our guides have also observed that doves love to roost on power lines or along tree-lined fence rows. They’ll often take a break to rest in one of these places as they fly from one field to the next. It’s common to see a dozen or more doves congregating on the same tree or power line during the evening. By pinpointing these locations, we can get a sense of the natural fly zones where the doves will consistently gather. Even when they’re not stopping to take a break, the doves tend to pass these areas regularly. These hotspots are prime setup sites to kick off a successful dove hunt.
Doves are very averse to cold rain, and they will move on when it comes through. However, we can use this to our advantage. If we find out that a cool, rainy front is on its way toward our hunting area, we might just hit the jackpot. The doves will often try to stay ahead of a cold front or a rainshower, and we may catch them flying through the area in big clusters to beat out the rain.
It’s important to note that doves have very good eyesight, so they can see hunters coming from a long way off. That’s why it’s crucial to wear drab, muted clothing or camouflage to help blend in with your surroundings. You’ll also want to have a comfortable cushion or five-gallon bucket to sit on. We’ll get set up in some cover near frequently visited grain fields, turn so the sun is at our backs, and get ready to shoot as the doves come in to feed.
As you can see, dove hunting is a challenging sport. But with knowledge about doves’ daily routines and typical behaviors, we can give ourselves an edge. Outwitting the doves and heading back to the Lodge with your 15 birds is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. There’s a certain rush to knowing that you’ve triumphed over one of the most challenging game birds South Dakota has to offer.
When you stay with us at Dakota Prairie Lodge & Resort, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience that you’ll be looking forward to repeating from the moment you depart the Lodge until the moment you pull up again the next year. Our Lodge is styled in a traditional, rustic fashion sure to make all of our dove hunters feel right at home.
In addition to the rural atmosphere and expansive prairie, the Lodge offers best-in-class modern amenities and comforts that our guests are constantly raving about. We have a smoking room, a gym, on-site laundry, a spa, a fire pit, and plenty more amenities. Plus, you’ll find comfortable beds, spacious rooms, and common areas full of card tables, pool tables, plush leather couches, and well-stocked bars. Whatever you’d like to do while you’re at the Lodge, we’ll aim to provide it.
You’ll start your day bright and early with a delicious, fulfilling breakfast before you head out on your dove hunt. Our cooks will whip up a hearty meal served buffet-style with options like bacon, eggs, sausages, oatmeal, biscuits, and fruit to prepare you for an exciting day of hunting. Have something special in mind or need to meet certain dietary restrictions? Our cooks are happy to make a dish just for you.
Once you’ve eaten, it’s time to get dressed and ready in your camo. Remember, doves have great eyesight, so it’s important to ensure that you can blend into the treeline, shrubs, or standing grains that we’ll be sheltering in.
As every dove hunter knows, timing is everything. When your group is dressed and ready, we’ll head down to set up our post. You’ll get situated on your cushion or seat, and then we’ll wait for the doves to arrive for their morning feeding. As the doves close in on a field of freshly cut sorghum, we’ll be ready to ambush them.
The shots will ring out through the crisp morning air on the prairie, and the dogs will bound away to retrieve the birds. Cries of enthusiasm will ring out as hunters exchange congratulatory pats on the back.
South Dakota uses group hunting limits, so we’ll get to keep on hunting until the group has reached a net total of 15 birds per person. Our guides are also licensed, so if you accidentally go slightly over, there’s nothing to worry about. They will be able to pick up the extra birds.
Didn’t get quite enough in the morning? Don’t worry, we’re prepared. After a break for a delicious hot lunch (with plenty of cookies to go around) and some time for relaxation (perhaps a refreshing nap), we’ll get prepared once again and head out toward one of the doves’ favorite late-afternoon feeding areas. Luckily for us, the birds aren’t smart enough to remember that they were shot at just a few hours ago.
By the time you’ve finished a full day of hunting, you’ll be ready to head back to the Lodge for some rest and relaxation. You might play a few hands of poker, watch some football, or enjoy a massage in our calming spa to rejuvenate your worn-out muscles.
We’ll share a sumptuous supper highlighting South Dakota’s finest in our gorgeous dining room that overlooks acres of grassy prairie. Whether you prefer a succulent prime rib or walleye fished right out of the nearby Missouri River, our cooks are sure to deliver. And don’t forget a homemade slice of hot apple pie to finish the meal!
After dinner, you’re free to enjoy the evening entertainment of your choice. We’re happy to work with your group to set up an excursion – whether that’s to peruse local nightlife opportunities or check out new shotguns at Cabela’s. We offer transportation to ensure everyone gets there and back safely.
If you’d rather kick back at the Lodge, we have plenty of activities and offerings that are sure to fill the great room with loud laughs, stiff drinks, and stories to remember. We have noticed that tales about one’s dove-hunting prowess become quite remarkable after a few hours at the bar! You’ll want to make sure your hunting buddies remember every great shot you made!
Whatever you decide to do with your evening, we encourage you to get a good night’s rest in our comfortable, cozy rooms. Hunting requires your full attention, so we want you to be alert while you’re in the field the next day. As always, safety first!
$750 per person per day
As with all of our hunting and fishing packages, a 50% deposit is required to hold your dates. Your deposit is non-refundable, but it is valid for three years.