September, scent of grass and wet soil, the first flashes of morning light and a thunderbolt in the sky. No, it's not a storm! It’s a turtle-dove, magnificent wildfowl long awaited by numerous hunters despite the delay in the opening of the hunting season compared to the past and the sharp decline in the number of specimens throughout the Italian territory. Unfortunately, this latter change has turned the appeal of such hunting into a memory for many. However, there are still those who are lucky enough to bump into it and cannot avoid narrating its charm.
Although in many regions the pre-opening in September is not allowed, do not give up: it is precisely in those days that a survey of the area can be the ace in the hole to take profit from, once the hunting season is officially open. Where should you search? Wheat and barley fields, corn, sunflower and tomato crops as well as vineyards are the favourite natural habitats of Streptopelia turtur, the scientific name for the wild turtle-dove.
After identifying the site, the technique we are going to focus on today is stalking hunting. To do this, however, two things are still missing: finding out the entry and exit point of the wildfowl and naturally a place to wait in ambush. We recommend natural shelters or dry stone walls but if the environment does not offer these artificial constructions, be content with the shade of the trees. A tip: keep the sun behind you and if your hunting session takes place together with other enthusiasts, deploy yourselves in an inverted-U-shaped formation, so as to avoid getting in each other’s way!
Turtle-dove shooting usually occurs at medium range. Avoid an "emotion-driven" shot, wait and rather try to understand what the aim of the turtle-dove actually is. Searching? Feeding? Viewing? We recommend that you wait, grasp and only then take action. The flight, as mentioned in the opening of the article, is fast and dynamic but the resistance of the wildfowl is really low. Therefore, if you play safe and boast an excellent aim it's a done deal.
There is no specific shotgun, aniway the ideal combinations are displayed in the table below. To get down to brass tacks we suggest a barrel with a length of 66/71 cm and medium or maximum constriction sizes; *** / ** for self-loading shotguns and *** / * for the double-barreled ones, a traditional and always effective match. Constriction sizes thus giving the possibility of remedy in the case of missed shots.
|Hunting technique||Gauge||Barrel length||Self-loading shotgun||Over and under /|
|Shotshell G.||Lead shots Nr.|
|Stalking hunting||12||66 / 71||*** / **||*** / *||30 / 34||7½ / 8 / 9|
|Stalking hunting||20||66 / 71||*** / **||*** / *||20 / 25||8 / 9|
|Stalking hunting||28||71||*** / **||*** / *||21 / 24||7½ / 8 / 9|
|Stalking hunting||.410||71||*** / **||*** / *||18||7½ / 8 / 9|
In open places, it is also advisable to shoot with 7 and ½ lead shot ammunition, with weight density no higher than 34 and 12-gauge.
Do you feel like shouldering your shotgun and hunting the turtle-dove? Don’t give-in, we’ll reveal a secret to you! In the last decade, a few more specimen have appeared in our beautiful land of Italy. However, grabbing such a valuable prey demands the right precautions. You know what to do, it's up to you now… break a leg!
Our thanks go to Professor Simone Bertini and Diego Apostoli for their availability and the precious time they devoted to us for the drafting of these guides.