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What Doves Love

By Keith Wood

The Question: What’s the best crop to attract mourning doves?

* The Disclaimer:  Many states' regulations allow you to bring the dove to the food but not bring food to the dove. In other words, you can plant crops that will attract game birds but you cannot simply throw out seed the week before the season opens. Check your state’s laws & regulations carefully before setting up a dove field.

The Choice: I’ve used sunflowers, wheat, and different varieties of millet, but a crop called Dove Proso Millet is my favorite. Mourning doves generally require seed to be on the ground for them to eat it so traditional crops must be cut or mowed to be effective. Proso is engineered to grow so tall that the tops bend to the ground, which puts the seeds within easy reach without manipulation.

The Expert Differal: William Cousins of the Whitetail Institute of North America also knows a thing or two about planting for doves. "Browntop millet or Peredovik black sunflower [are best] ... [But] sunflower is a little more difficult to grow. So If I had to plant one it would be millet."

Does it work?  Using the same field in South Alabama, I have rotated several different crops over the past 4 years. I had great success with a mix of brown top and white millet last year but this year we planted Proso and I’ve never seen more doves come to a field.   

Where will it grow?  This map provides information including planting dates for the various zones. Use your local feed co-op as a resource; they generally know what will grow in your climate. My experience is that Proso is very easy to grow: disc, broadcast seed (either by hand or mechanically), fertilize with 13-13-13 or 8-12-12 and re-disc. Now lube your shotgun and stock up on ammo.

Bonus: The Anti-Hunter Dove Hunter Myth: Why would you want to shoot a dove? They're too small to eat.

The Conclusion: You eat shrimp, don't you?

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2 Responses to What Doves Love

Jed wrote:
September 14, 2011

We have had the best success in North Florida with Brown Top Millet.

TX Hntr wrote:
September 07, 2011

Millet is great, sunflowers are good too but you have to bush hog them.