Land Management for Turkeys and Doves on a Budget
While you're chasing longbeards this spring, start thinking about where you'll dove hunt next year. A few hours mowing and applying herbicide in the spring can get you ready for a fun time in the dove field while also helping wild turkey poults.
"All you need is 3 to 5 acres of abandoned agricultural field or old pasture, 3 to 5 acres is ideal," said Scott Vance, assistant vice president of conservation programs administration for the NWTF. "Really, you want to have some trees along the field edges for roosting, water nearby and you'll need some basic farm equipment."
The following steps will help you prepare an affordable and productive dove field:
Step 1: Brush hog the field in early spring.
Step 2: Allow the field to grow for one to two weeks; 4 to 6 inches of new growth is ideal.
Step 3: Spray the field with two quarts of glyphosate herbicide per acre to control unwanted grasses and weeds.
Step 4: Disk the field 4 to 6 inches deep. This step is not necessary but will improve the plant density. Without disking, natural regeneration will produce grasses and weeds, but breaking the surface of the field will help the plants grow that doves like to eat.
Step 5: About two weeks before the opening day of dove season, brushhog one-third of the field into parallel strips. Mow as low to the ground as possible to create bare ground covered with weed seeds. Doves will flock to the field to eat the seeds.
While seeds from grasses in the field will attract doves, the new growth of grass in the spring will also attract insects — the major ingredient in a young wild turkey's diet. "You can plant any number of seeds that doves love such as millet, sunflowers or proso," Vance said, "but this is a great way to prepare a dove field without spending a lot of time and money."