Dove season is here!

Dove season is just days away, hunters all over Missouri have spent the last couple of months gearing up for this weekend event. Shooting doves is a new passion of mine, I was introduced to it a couple of years ago at Bois D’ Arc conservation area. Before learning about how great dove tastes, i never thought much of dove hunting, as I hunt for meat, which dove tends to lack.  I was talked into going by my buddy Travis, We have been hunting partners for years, mainly hunting squirrels and deer. My first time hunting dove was wrong, on just about all accounts. We didn’t really do much scouting, instead, we just showed up about mid morning at one of the conservation lots and gathered our shotguns and coolers and took our place in the field. I figured hunting dove would be easier than hunting squirrel, as I wasn’t trying to pick them out from the branches of trees, boy was I wrong.  We didn’t have any decoys with us to entice the birds into stopping for a spell, and even when the occasional bird did show up, the lack of wing shooting practice was plain to see. We left that day with a meager offering of two doves for myself, and three for my buddy. We decided to cook them simply, we lightly breaded them and dropped them in a saute pan with some butter, seasoning them with a little salt and pepper. After the first bite, both me and my buddy were hooked, the flavor was so good I immediately saw why people cherish these delicious birds. I would describe the taste as beefy with hints of liver. It would be another year before I could get back out into the field. Luckily the Missouri conservation department held a couple of dove hunting clinics that both of us were able to get into and learn more of the ins and outs of the art. The classes were very informative in all aspects of dove hunting. We learned about the different types of shot and a general overview of how to choose the best choke for each situation. We also learned about doves themselves, migration patterns, feeding habits, and how to attract them to you. We also practiced one of the most important aspects, how to shoulder the shotgun quickly and correctly and how to sweep the birds when aiming. I left with way more knowledge and confidence. The second clinic went more over identifying doves in the sky, and practical skills on the trap and skeet range. I learned that i badly needed practice before i should try dove hunting again. Gearing up for the second year was really fun, both of us showed up several Sunday afternoons and shot so many rounds that my shoulder felt sore for most of the next week. We managed to gather up some decoys in anticipation of September 1st. That morning we woke up well before anyone in the house even thought about stirring. Downing some fresh made coffee, we got our gear ready and drove up to the conservation check in station to check in and head to our spot, which we had scouted out pretty thoroughly the previous day. Once we got to the field we discovered just how different this dove season was going to be. Hunters lined almost all sides of the field that we went to. Some seemed like us,  new to everything, others seemed grizzled veterans, bringing an entire decoy army to set up in front of their position. Some even had hunting dogs to retrieve the bodies of the fallen. At daylight the field blew up, a cacophony of shots rang out as the doves came into land. One of the weirdest feelings is the steel rain that occurs when the shot drops back down to the earth. We made sure to stay hydrated and spent the whole morning trying to fill our daily limit. I fared better than last year and left the field with 5 birds. This time we made a staple of the dove table, bacon wrapped breasts, grilled. This next year I plan on making dove poppers with jalapenos and an herb and cream cheese spread. I hope this catches your eye and makes you want to go out and try to get a limit this September 1st!

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