Dove Hunting, the Perfect Family Sport

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Friends, family and the outdoors, plus plenty of shooting and nice weather, make America's most popular game bird perfect for everyone

Social Affairs

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1 | It's a Social Affair

Action slow? Don’t worry, there are usually plenty of friends and family around to talk to during a dove hunt. A casual conversation with the person on either side of your spot isn’t going to scare away the birds. We often carry a picnic lunch in with us to enjoy afield. Good food and conversation makes even a slow day fun. A cooler full of water or soft drinks will help when the warm fall sun leaves hunters feeling parched. Leaving a hunt with a truck full of happy kids makes everyone want more of the same. 

(© Michael Pendley photo)

 

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Shooting Practice

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2 | There's Plenty of Shooting Practice

The best wingshooters I know honed their skills in a dove field. Even after a lifetime spent shooting at the fast-flying, evasive birds, I am mediocre at best. Doves are hard to hit. That said, in a good field, shots are plentiful, and misses are soon forgotten. Practice makes perfect, and everyone gets plenty of practice when hunting a good dove spot. Limits are usually generous, so young hunters will most likely be able to shoot all afternoon.

Dove hunting teaches proper shooting form, distance estimation, and correct lead for shooting at moving game, which are all good skills for any type of wingshooting. Make it a point to have everyone pick up their empty hulls and leftover trash at the end of the hunt. That is a good habit to instill no matter what you're doing afield.

(© Michael Pendley photo)

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Nice Weather

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3 | The Weather is Nice

A rainy, windy evening in the deer stand with the temperature hovering just above freezing will make even the most experienced hunter question his or her sanity. A day like that can make a kid not want to come back. Dove seasons normally open around late summer or early fall, during some of the nicest weather of the year. While you might not need to bundle up against cold, don’t forget the sunscreen. If you can’t find a shady spot to wait out the day, a nasty sunburn might await.

(© Michael Pendley photo)

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Youth Gunning

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4 | You Can Shoot Small Shotguns

For a young hunter, recoil is a definite consideration. While doves might be hard to hit, they aren’t hard to bring down when you do make contact. A lightweight youth 20-gauge with field loads is the perfect gun for a young hunter. If even a 20-gauge is a bit large for your shooter, a .410 or 28-gauge will work; just know that the smaller payload will make it even tougher for a kid to hit the mark.

Even with light loads, keep your eyes open for bad habits to form if continuous shooting starts to make for a sore shoulder. Take snack and drink breaks periodically; there will always be time for another hunt.

10 Tips for Better Dove Hunting

(© Michael Pendley photo)

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Good Eating

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5 | Doves are Delicious

Bacon-wrapped dove poppers stuffed with a slice of onion, a slice of jalapeno and a dollop of cream cheese are a favorite around our house. Baked, grilled, roasted or fried, it’s hard to go wrong with dove breast.

The birds are easy to clean as well, so get the kids involved on prepping the day’s kill for the table. While there is a little meat on a dove hind quarter, and plucking them whole is relatively simple, most dove hunters simply peel out the breast.

Kids who otherwise might be indifferent, or even a little wary, of trying wild game will be much more likely to enjoy it if they have a hand in procuring and preparing the meal.

(© Michael Pendley photo)

You'll find Michael Pendley's Realtree Timber 2 Table recipes here.

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Friends, family and the outdoors, plus plenty of shooting and nice weather, make America's most popular game bird perfect for everyone.