The anomaly of mourning doves is they weigh on average only 4 ½ ounces but are one of the most-difficult-to-down game birds in the world.
The little gray streaks move at speeds approaching 60 mph, sometimes appearing to change direction in mid-air to avoid a spread of shotgun pellets.
Pat Foy Brady and his son Sandy are two of the most-experienced dove hunters in North Carolina. Based in Reidsville, they hunt doves year-round and have a few tips about how to drop what often are called "Carolina pigeons."
First of all, pick your spots.
"You have to go where the doves are," Pat Foy Brady said. "We scout to find doves and prepare some fields for dove hunts."
Any field planted in normal agricultural practices — winter wheat, for example — is a good place to hunt.
When the hunt approaches, make sure your shooting eye is sharp.
"Go to a skeet range, not a trap range," Pat Foy Brady said. "Skeet is the best way to shoot at clay targets from different angles, which is what dove shooting is all about.
"It’ll get you ready for doves," Sandy Brady said.
When a dove flies in your direction, get ready, and make sure you follow the basics of good wingshooting.
"Dove shooting is instinct; it’s like hitting a golf ball," said Pat Foy Brady, a legendary amateur golfer and former state amateur champion. "Most people see a dove flying at them, they just shoot. But that’s not the best way to hit one.
"Like golf, you first have to have your eyes focused on the dove, then put your shoulder on the stock, look down the barrel, put the front sight bead on the bird, pull in front of him and pull the trigger while still swinging in front of him."
Brady said the different angles of a dove’s flight path mean a shooter must take varying lead angles.
"If a dove’s flying away from you, you have to drop the lead down and in front of the bird," he said. "And that’s why it’s so hard to kill doves."