When deer season ends, I clean my hunting gear one last time, catch some crappie then start looking wistfully at every dove that flys within 30 yards. Some people call me obsessive, but I'm just excited because the opening day of dove season means hunting season is finally back!
When my kids got old enough to join me in a dove field, I really wanted to find an outstanding dove hunt where gaggles of birds would attack like kamakazi flyers; a place with doves dashing in so fast the kids 13 year old hands couldn't reload fast enough.
At the time, the only dove hunting options I knew about were the WMA's or hunts with price tags of $50, $75 or more per gun. I'm a cheap, noon-to-dark dove hunter, and didn't want to shell out big bucks and risk having hot, tired kids begging to leave before the shooting really got going good, so we opted for local WMA's with planted dove fields. The WMA's were great, but there were usually crowds and if you wanted a good spot, you needed to arrive early...not something you want to do with kids! Most of the WMA's got hunted every day and the birds became sporadic at best a few days into the season.
One day, someone at a WMA told me about youth dove hunts sponsored by the Alabama DCNR for kids under 16, it sounded good so I did some research and found DCNR youth dove hunts throughout the state that were totally FREE. The rules were simple, you had to register and have a kid under 16 with you. Each registered adult could bring 2 kids, everyone shoots, and no booze allowed so, for a grand total of $0 (plus ammunition) I could take 2 boys dove hunting over prepared fields and teach them the skills they need to become successful hunters. The instructions were also very clear...don't even think about showing up before 1:00. Could it be any better? Nope.
We hunted the DCNR youth dove hunts for several years and the kids learned to camoflauge themselves, to sit still until it was time to shoot, to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and most of all we got to have fun together outdoors. The kids turned 16 and we began to hunt other venues and as I watched them in the fields, it was obvious the skills they had learned on the youth hunts were safe and solid.
If you have kids and want to take them to a great youth dove hunt, pay attention to Outdoor Alabama and sign up early because the space is limited. Usually registration opens about a month before the season and some hunts may only have 12 spots available, so don't delay your decision!
My Outdoors Online
Picking up where the road ends!