A dove shoot is a great introduction to hunting for a fledgling hunter, but not because it’s easy. Newbies should understand that doves are a challenging target. They’re small, crafty and fast. However, even if a newcomer doesn’t limit out on opening day, they’ll have a ton of fun trying because the culture surrounding the dove hunt is perfect for welcoming others.
Opening day is typically in early September (find your state’s season here), which means the weather is warm and the sweet tea is cold. A dove hunt done right will start with lunch, and the actual hunting won’t commence until the afternoon. Getting up early, shivering and bundling up to stay warm aren’t required. This means your new hunting pal won’t be frightened away by an icy trek to a deer stand before sunrise.
Once your invitee rolls out of bed at a civilized hour, she won’t have to don your hand-me-down camouflage either. No face paint or ghillie suit is necessary to hunt doves. In fact, depending on your host, some dove hunt invitations suggest dressy casual. Regardless if the host has a dress code or if the plan is to casually meet some pals on community lands, any earth-toned attire will do.
If your friend is still a little leery on hunting, it’ll be easy to sell her on an awesome picnic with all the fixin’s. A dove hunt done right will typically include some or all of the following delicacies: marinated dove breasts cuddled up with cheddar cheese and a jalapeño slice in a bacon blanket topped with onions, barbequed dove resting on a cornbread pillow dolloped with pepper jelly, maybe a little fried bluegill sprinkled with lemon juice. And of course all the coleslaw, potato salad and deviled eggs they can eat. Once everyone is well fed and has talked a big game, it’s finally time to pull out the shotguns.
The hunters hurry to find the best spot in the field, scope out the trees and find the roost. Some of the more patient hunters grab another glass of sweet tea and wait to see where the birds favor. Amidst the scurry, a newbie might not instinctually pick the best spot, but that’s OK. While they watch and learn, a hunter in a hotspot will always offer to trade places—once they’ve met their limit. Everyone wants to have a good time, and hunters are happy to share.
Once the sky turns pink and red, the hunting party and the birds all need a rest. Just before sunset, it’s time to turn in. However, the fun doesn’t have to end there! A new hunter can learn the tips and tricks of the trade over drinks and laughs by the light of the fire. Bourbon causes tall tales to grow taller, and people of all ages can appreciate the stories. Your new hunting buddy will be locked in for life after a day of shooting doves. You might have just found a new range partner as well; they’ll want to shoot some skeet to prepare for next year!