For many of us, Sept. 1 is the real start of hunting season.
The start of September means Labor Day weekend for most of America. But to the hunting world, it means it's time to hit the field in search of our tasty, feathery friend, the mourning dove. The First day of September is one that makes my heart beat faster as it approaches.
Dove hunting is such a laid-back, simple and enjoyable experience, and it really is the perfect way to kick off the hunting seasons. From this point on, seasons and hunting trips start to take for. Whether you plan to hunt elk, pronghorn, mule deer, whitetail deer, bear or other birds this year, dove hunting is the perfect low-pressure hunt to get yourself primed and ready.
Here are just a few of the reasons every hunter should start off the year with dove season.
Unless you avidly shoot trap or clays, you might be a little rusty in the shooting department with almost a year removed from hunting season. If you're a waterfowl or upland hunter, dove season is a great opportunity to get that shotgun out and break off your rust.
If you've ever hunted doves before, you know the dipping, diving, crazy aerobatics they can pull off as they swarm your motion decoys. At close ranges, this bird hunting can sometimes be extremely difficult. If you can get to where you're consistently knocking down doves, shooting anything else will seem easy.
Who doesn't love the smell of gun powder as the morning unfolds on a standing sunflower patch? If you don't, we can't be friends. Get out and kick off your hunting season with a little shooting practice in the dove field. I promise you won't regret it.
Exercise for You and the Dog
Dove season is also the perfect way to get your hunting dog ready for the season. Get them outside and let them get some quality exercise as you sharpen and freshen up their obedience and retrieving skills. Get those labs out to fetch some downed doves. I've never seen a mad dog with feathers in its mouth.
Dove season is a good indicator of what you might need to improve on before other seasons kick off.
Filling the Freezer and Breaking in the Grill
Chances are your wild-game supply from the hunting seasons before is starting to dwindle. Dove season provides the perfect opportunity to fill the freezer with some delicious, organic meat to hold you over until October and November hunting seasons take full effect.
Dove breast happens to be one of my favorite wild-game meats. Dove hearts are easily a close second. As you can imagine, they're incredibly small and it takes a ton to make a good meal worth messing with. Deep-fried to perfection, they taste similar to popcorn chicken.
Place your harvested dove breast on cream-cheese filled jalapeños, then wrap them in bacon and grill until they're crisp. Get that grill ready for what is to come the rest of hunting season and enjoy one of the better wild-game recipes known to man with these amazing dove poppers. I promise your taste buds will thank me.
My garage and sheds each look more and more like a miniature Bass Pro Shops store every year it seems.
Although dove season doesn't require a ton of gear, it does force you to dig out some necessities to get ready for the hunt.
And once you begin to get some of that gear out, it forces you to sift through other gear for upcoming hunts. Therefore, I always use my preparation for dove season as a chance to start double-checking my gear list.
Use dove hunting as a jump start for preparation on the other hunting seasons to come. While you're changing your batteries on your dove decoys, check the batteries on your mallard MOJO. While you get your shell bag organized for the upcoming dove hunt, make sure you have enough shells and an organized bag for duck season.
Filter through your hunting clothes and get some light gear to wear on your dove hunt, but also use it as an opportunity to get your whitetail hunting clothes out and ready for a scent-controlled washing.
Getting in That Hunting Mindset
Dove season is the best way to kick off hunting season because it gets that hunting mindset rolling, but it's also chill enough to not take too seriously.
It'll get you back out scouting and back in the swing for hunting seasons to come. If you have a bad day of shooting, it's not a big deal. You had a blast and you're out there to have fun.
Family and Friends
Hunting is all about enjoying the great outdoors with those you love. Dove season is the perfect way to get hunting seasons started on the right foot because you can enjoy it with friends and family. Grab the guns, shells, decoys and some buckets to sit on while you enjoy some company to drop some doves with.
After a good day's hunt, you can head home and get the dove dinner started.
Best of luck to all of you who dove hunt this year. Dove hunting can and will quickly become some of the most enjoyable small-game hunting you'll experience. Now go kick off your hunting season with a bang!