James A. Reed Dove Hunting yields great dove hunting

Contributed by Tyler Mahoney of Mahoney Outdoors. Tyler Mahoney is a Rockhurst University-educated outdoors fanatic who works to support his hunting and fishing habits. Read more of his next-generation insight at mahoneyoutdoors.com.

Every year, there is great anticipation for the dove hunt at James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area near Lee’s Summit, MO. The area touts great wheat and sunflowers on an annual basis. You can expect to see lines out the door of anxious hunters hoping to grab a spot in their favorite field.

During my scouting, field 63 was the place I wanted to be. There were literally hundreds of doves flying the day before hunting was allowed on September 4th. I showed up at 9:45am thinking I was getting there early enough. Boy was I wrong. The guy in front of picked the last available spot for 63, so I was forced to make a decision to go somewhere else. I chose field 57, which didn’t have as many sunflowers on the ground when I walked it previously.

Luckily, it usually doesn’t matter a whole lot where you hunt the first two days at Reed because there are birds everywhere. My girlfriend, Sami Thomas, and I made it out at 2pm on the 4th and picked our spot. Shooting was already going on all around us.

It wasn’t long before we got in on the action, too. We had several birds down before a short downpour of rain interrupted the hunt. There was a large system moving through the area and unfortunately we didn’t come too prepared with rain gear. The doves didn’t fly during the rain, but as soon as it stopped, they were out in full force.

By 5:30, I was up to 14 birds, and unfortunately ran into a string of bad luck trying to get my 15th. Sadly, I think I went through an entire box of shells to finally get the last one.

The cool thing about hunting James A. Reed is that hunters have a much better chance at taking a “banded” bird. They band many of the doves on annual basis right there at Reed. My 15th bird should have been my second of the day, but another hunter that was having a difficult time downing some birds shot at the same time I did. I elected to let him have it since I was so close to a limit. When he raised it up and shouted it was a banded bird, I slightly second guessed my decision. But he deserved it too!

My good friend, David Gray, who was lucky enough to grab a spot in field 63, also downed a banded bird as well. Both of ours were banded at Reed and born in 2018.

Many people think that the first two days at Reed are the only good days of the year before all the doves get blown out from the hunting pressure. They aren’t wrong, but it doesn’t hurt to check back in the area later in the season. Sometimes a new flock of birds arrives ahead of a cold front.

Five days later I returned to a different field after hearing reports of more birds and limited out even faster than I did the first day. There were also some large flocks of pigeons flying around, which are not protected by the Missouri Wildlife Code. You can shoot those too and they are just like a giant dove.

Keep in mind, you must check in ahead of time at the main office before going out to hunt any of the fields at Reed. When you are done hunting, you must turn in your card that records the number of doves you shot. You must also have a plug in your shotgun while hunting. Unfortunately, hunting isn’t allowed in the morning, but you can start at 1pm until sunset.

Good luck out there and be sure to check all hunting regulations to make sure you are good to go!

Need a Small Boat Transducer Mounting Rig?

  • Hands-On REVIEW of a Cabela’s Product: Video & Commentary
  • Affordable & Works Perfect for Small Boats
  • Durable & Adjustable, but Instructions are Difficult
The Sonar Transducer Mounting Rig works perfect, but the instructions could have been more clearly written.  It did help me understand more about finding the bigger fish!

By Tyler Mahoney

“Up until this summer, I had never personally used sonar electronics to aid in my fishing. I finally broke down and bought a small Lowrance Hook 4x Sonar unit in June.

My intention was to use it to fish the smaller lakes and ponds that I fish regularly with my small boat that is powered by a small electric motor. Once I bought it, I needed to determine how I was going to mount it. Luckily, I came across a great product at Cabela’s product that would allow me to mount it on any boat.

The product is called the Cabela’s Portable Transducer Mount, see the link: (http://www.cabelas.com/product/Portable-Transducer-Bracket/699847.uts).
While it has some small imperfections, it works great for my purposes and I strongly recommend it, there is no hole drilling required and it is adjustable over a wide range of possible dimension.

The unit will fit boats with a 15-20 inch high transom and with a transom thickness up to 2-1/8 inches wide. It’s made from high-grade aluminum and while the instructions might have been more clearly written, it was not that hard to figure out once I got started.

The video will explain the issues I found. Overall, it meets my objectives and I like it.  Cost was under $50.
See the below Youtube video for a short product review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bP2wqwZKMxc.

 

SPOT & STALK TURKEY HUNTING

  • Effective, but BE VERY CAREFUL
  • Recommended ONLY ON PRIVATE, SECURED LAND
  • Tactics & Techniques

By Tyer Mahoney

When everything goes right, your stalk the long way around to expected turkey location is rewarded.

Heavy rain and wind can put the turkeys in a funk where they don’t gobble or respond to calls.  Severe rain can wash out nests, which means hens must breed again, thus prolonging the “henned up” effect every turkey hunter dreads.  Other times, such as late season, gobblers can be plain uncooperative and won’t investigate decoys or your calling.

So what do you do?

Simple.  It’s time to get on your feet and close the distance.  Although it’s not quite the same as a strutting tom marching into your decoys, spot and stalk turkey hunting can be just as exciting and rewarding, though your safety is of key interest in manner of hunting.

I have enjoyed much success stalking turkeys on secure, private land, but learned the most from my failures.  Whether you are by yourself or with a hunting partner, I have learned several strategies to follow when you begin your stalk.

Before you begin any spot and stalk, be sure of your surroundings and possible hunters that may be in your area.  I highly recommend you only do this on private land.

SPOTTING

This might seem like the easy part, but there are several factors you must keep in mind.

First, turkeys always find a way to be where you least expect.  As you approach your glassing point, stay in cover and below the line of sight of the area you think may have turkeys.  Always abide by the rule that if you can see out in the field, then whatever is out there can see you.

Also, stay in the shadows as much as possible, which should be relatively easy if you have good timber.  Ideally, you will make your way to a spot where you can see a good distance across a field that may be a strutting zone.  Along with a large field of view, your glassing point should be accessible to a good route to make your stalk.

Next, move slowly until you spot your bird.  One of the biggest mistakes I have made is quickly glancing across a field, seeing nothing, and then hustling to my next viewing area.  It is only then I realize I’ve spooked a strutting tom standing below a rise in the field I could not see from my first position.

Many people hunt from a blind to start their day.  If you’re like me, you have had plenty of times where birds hang up in the distance or won’t commit because they are with hens.  During set-up, be sure to position your blind so the entrance is facing away from where the turkeys are likely to be located.  In case you need to close the distance on foot, that allows you to exit your blind into cover without disturbing the turkeys.

STALKING

Once you have eyes on a gobbler, the fun part begins.  You will proceed with many of the same strategies you used to spot him.

Stalking works best in certain conditions.  After a rain or in the early morning when everything is still damp, you can move much quieter.  In addition, use the wind to your advantage.  If you must cover a large distance quickly, move as far as you can when the wind picks up and stop when it dies down again. And remember the golden rule, if you are in sight of the field, whatever is in the field can see you too. Stay below their line of sight!

If your turkey is on the move, always take the long way around to get out in front.  It might be more work, but I have failed most of the time when I tried to take the most direct route to the birds.  Taking the long way around allows you to stay in better cover and leaves more room for error on your part.  For example, you will inevitably step on a fallen branch in your haste.  If you’ve maintained a wide circle, inadvertent noises or movement shouldn’t spook the turkey.

As you get closer, you will more than likely lose sight of the birds at times.  When you stop to check the position of your gobbler, be sure you are next to a large tree or thick brush.  This will allow you to hide quickly in case he surprises you.

SHOOTING

If you follow the above guidelines, you will most likely end up with a shot opportunity.  You can always increase your chances by carrying a turkey fan with you as well.  Pop that up in front of you, in sight of the tom and many times he will close the distance running right at you!

Most importantly, remember to use the rules of hunter safety and to always be aware of your surroundings!

Spot and stalk is best done in an area where you are certain no other hunters are around.  In some parts of the country, this manner of hunting is not permitted.

Good luck and happy stalking!