Rick Windham is an outdoor columnist
Pigeon season in Nebraska is open! The season opened on the 1st of September. I’ve been waiting for this season for months. It’s not just a chance to get back into the field for some fishing, but it’s a chance to meet some good friends and enjoy what Nebraska has to offer.
It was a slightly slower opening day than past seasons, but there was still some shooting. You don’t need to limit in order to have a good time.
Just going out for the hunt has a lot of satisfaction. Pulling the trigger is almost secondary to the chase—almost. I still enjoy shooting the wing.
If you haven’t gone out yet, keep yourself busy. Never assume that doves will be around all season.
The season lasts until October 30, but a brisk cold snap could put an end to most hunting. The pigeons head south to spend the winter once it cools down.
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If you are not able to do any pre-season scouting, it is too late. Here are some last minute tips that may help you achieve a successful hunt:
Look for food sources and watering holes. Doves will follow a daily routine and you can find these spots quickly if you search for them.
Look for plant spots that produce small seeds or along the edges of leftover wheat, harvested millet, etc.
Choose a place with tall trees with bare limbs and power lines near the area you will be hunting. Doves like to fly to a place to rest near their food source and look at things before they fly to land to feed.
Keep an eye on the scheduled and scheduled airlines. You will see where the doves fly and move to a place in that area for more shooting opportunities.
Doves tend to fly along physical features on the landscape such as drawings, tree lines, or canyons. Preparation along these routes can be very productive.
Continue analyzing where to hunt and find places where you can sit in the shade, preferably with the sun behind you. Shades help mask movement, making it difficult for doves to see you.
stay where you are. Doves are quick to pick up movement and blaze away from you.
Do not sit on the line of sight. Pigeons can see you flying towards you. The human figure can be easily seen if you fly over the horizon yourself.
Think camouflage. You don’t need the latest digital camouflage, but you do need to blend into the background. The clothes should be of earthy colors – tan, light green, brown and a little black.
Consider using decoys. Doves are group birds, so they look for other birds to join them. Traps can help you do this very effectively.
Call: Dove calls are working. I’ve used pigeon calls for years and have seen birds turn around and come towards me after I called too many times to think it was just a coincidence.
Guns: The make, model, or gauge of your gun is not as important as being able to hit what you’re aiming for! Get some practice as soon as you can.
Probably the best quote I’ve heard about pigeon hunting is like this, “Pigeon hunting is so much like golf, it’s so easy to spoil!” A little advance planning and following your research plan can really help make your time in this field successful.
September 1st came with the opening of another season: the bunny. I enjoy hunting rabbits, especially with small hunting rifles and .22 pistols. Rabbit hunting is a great way to introduce someone to the sport of hunting.
Although the season is open, I like to wait until after a hard freeze before I get serious about rabbit hunting. Many parasites that infect rabbits are killed by cold weather.
The rabbit hunting season is one of our longest, spanning until February 28, 2023. I love rabbit hunting because it is a challenge and is a great way to get kids and people new to the sport of hunting to get involved.
Right after the snow falls, it is one of the favorite times to chase the rabbits because you can easily keep track of the tracks. It’s fun to watch the new hunting track game and start seeing how rabbits move from one place to another.
In thick cover, the small-caliber rifle is a good choice. Your shots may need to be quick as the rabbits move from patch to patch. Shotguns are ideal for this type of hunting. I like to use the .410 in this case.
The .22 scope rifle is another good option. Walking slowly in an area often causes a rabbit to slip, run a few yards, and duck back into cover.
Finding a well-camouflaged rabbit and placing an accurate shot through brush tangles can increase the challenge of hunting.
On cold days, I like to find a place that overlooks a good rabbit habitat. I know the place has rabbits because I discovered the area and followed a lot of paths to the area.
I would be sitting 50 to 75 yards with a rifle and a very accurate 22nd scope.
I will watch areas that are in bright sunlight. Rabbits will come out of the shade on cool days to warm up in the sun. Being able to make specific shots is an added challenge, but it can make you get a lot of bunnies on the table.
Rabbits are excellent table fare. You can fry rabbits like chicken, but most of the time I will prepare my rabbits using the Shake ‘n Bake packets you see in the grocery story. I have used many flavors and they make a delicious meal.
Enjoy your time in the wonderful places in Nebraska.
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