A shotgun choke modifies the spread of the shot in order to gain better range, shot pattern, and accuracy. Which choke should you use?

There are three main types of chokes: full, improved cylinder, and modified.

A full choke creates a small, dense pellet pattern and carries a tighter spread at a further distance. An improved cylinder choke has a wider, less dense pattern, but isn’t effective at longer ranges. The modified choke falls between the other two, both in shot density and range.

The type of game you are pursuing and the type and size of shot you are using will determine which choke you need. For example, you can use an improved or modified choke when hunting doves, pheasant, or quail. If you are turkey hunting, a full or extra-full choke would be best.

Most modern shotguns come with screw-in choke tubes so you can change them out easily. The most important thing is to select a choke that will allow you to be effective in your shot. Take into consideration the range at which you’ll be shooting and the game that you are after.

Your distance from the target determines the choke you need. To learn more, check out these shotgun choke tips from Bass Pro.

Mesquite-Smoked Dove
from Charbroil.com

Step up your bacon-wrapped dove game this season with this richly marinated meal.

Preparation time: 12 hours. Cook time: 10-20 minutes.

Ingredients:

Brine
1 c. salt
1 gallon water

Marinade
¼ c. sherry
1 c. soy sauce
1 c. apple cider vinegar
¼ c. brown sugar, packed
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (or to taste)
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ medium onion, sliced

Other
10 dove breasts
10 thin, fatty bacon slices
Cracked black pepper
Mesquite wood chips

Make the brine by mixing the salt and water in a container that will fit in your refrigerator. Soak dove breasts in brine overnight.

Mix together all marinade ingredients. Remove dove breasts from brine and pat dry. Add dove breasts to the marinade and chill for at least 2 hours.

Remove breasts from marinade and pat dry. Wrap breasts in bacon slices, sprinkle with cracked black pepper, and cover. Chill until you are ready to grill.

Add mesquite wood chips to your grill’s smoker box and warm up grill. Add dove breasts to an area with indirect heat, removing when bacon is crispy.

This tastes great with wild rice; you can even smoke that, too, for added flavor!

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wild game doves

Dove Hunting Safety Tips

1. SAFETY – Be aware of your safe zone-of-fire! Traveling outside of your safe zone-of-fire is dangerous. The last thing you want to do is pepper your fellow hunters with lead!

2. SUCCESS – Match the choke to your conditions. Most modern shotguns have screw chokes that allow you to change them on the fly. If you are aware of your hunting area and can predict the rough range of the doves’ flight path, use a choke that sets you up for success. Many hunters make the mistake of using a choke that is too tight. Doves are extremely difficult to hit, so using the right choke can increase your odds. Instead of a full choke, opt first for a modified or improved cylinder. The choke controls how much shot will hit in a certain area at different ranges.

    • Improved cylinder: Range of up to about 30 yards
    • Modified: Range of up to about 35 yards
    • Full: Range of up to 40 yards

One last thing: Don’t throw any Hail Marys. Being a responsible hunter means knowing when to let a dove go. Any dove outside of your effective range will be very difficult to hit. You don’t want to end up wounding the dove and sending it across a property line to expire. Take good shots!

3. FUN – Take a buddy! Dove hunting is the perfect way to introduce a new hunter to the sport. The weather is typically nice, game is plentiful (hopefully), and communication is easy. Many new hunters prefer small game or bird hunting as introductory hunts for these reasons.