The single most popular day for American hunters is Sept. 1, the dove opener in most states. In Texas alone, over 400,000 hunters are likely to be in the field, and you can almost hear the drawl-cussing from here as most of those hunters whiff their first dozen shots.
Missing is half the fun, because with early season dove, there’s almost always another opportunity. The other half of the fun is the company. Dove hunting is one of the most social activities you can have while wearing camouflage. Maybe you have a special memory of a dove opener with family or a group of close friends. There was probably as much laughing as there was cussing. As many excuses for poor shooting as there are congrats for making nice shots. And as much cursing of dogs as praising them.
If you’ve been following Powderhook, then you know one of our foundational principles is the notion of passing on outdoor traditions. And there are few better traditions that deserve perpetuation than a good dove hunt. So here’s my challenge to you: Invite someone new to your group this year. If you hunt with your kids, ask them to bring along one of their friends. If you hunt with a group of buddies, enlarge your circle to include someone new. If you hunt with your parents, ask if it’s okay to bring along a classmate who may not have the family tradition that you have.
The asking can be the toughest part, as any mentor can appreciate. But everything else is easy, from sharing your gear to showing where to set up, from showing how to read the acrobatic approach of a fast-closing dove, to demonstrating how to clean a limit of birds.
There are plenty of dove to go around. Make a new tradition with a beginning hunter. It’s one way to ensure that Sept. 1 remains a sort of unofficial national holiday for hunters well into the future.