First Day Dove Hunt: Teaching a New Hunter in Yuma, Arizona

Arizona dove season started on September 1. This year, I took a new dove hunter out on on opening day. My policy is to introduce new hunters to hunting as often as I can.

Jesse had fired a few shots with a .22 rifle before, but had never fired a shotgun at a moving target. He had to learn nearly everything from scratch. That’s a challenge with the fast-moving birds.

Jesse understood basic gun safety, but I reinforced the four safety rules. I told him while actually hunting for dove, to have his finger on the safety of the old Remington 20 gauge 870 he is holding. It may appear that his finger is on the trigger in these photos, but it’s not. It is on the safety, just behind the trigger on the 870 shotgun.

Dove hunting is a good introduction for new hunters. There are a lot of targets. Doves aren’t very sophisticated birds. Minor mistakes can be made, and a novice can still have a successful hunt. Dove hunting is an authentic hunting experience.

Hunting is a primordial activity that seems hardwired into our brain patterns. You can try to explain it to non-hunters, but it needs to be experienced to be understood.

Explaining hunting to someone who has never hunted is like trying to explain hot showers to a person who’s never had running water. They may understand the mechanics, but not the experience. The difference between merely walking through a wilderness area, and hunting in that same area is profound. In one experience, you’re merely observing nature. In the other, you’re an active participant in the drama.

This year, there were plenty of doves. Jesse did well. He shot 10 birds the first day, the majority of which where white wing doves. It took him a while to learn to swing the shotgun, to follow through, and to get “on” a moving target quickly. He fired a lot of shots to harvest those 10 doves, but there were a lot of doves to shoot at.

He didn’t waste shells shooting at doves that were out of range. Determining range is an important skill for wing shooting. Jesse harvested birds with both the 870 and a Browning Twelvette Double-Auto. He favored the old beat-up 870.

I insisted we collect each downed dove before another shot was fired.Learning to mentally mark the location of downed birds was another skill I worked at transmitting to Jesse.

Unless you have a good dog or another person who’s willing to work specifically at retrieving the birds, they’re easy to lose. Their coloration blends in well with the desert brush so it’s best to collect them quickly while you have an idea where they fell.

After the day’s hunting, I taught Jesse how to clean the doves. He was fascinated by the internal mechanics of the dove’s organs. I pointed out the crop, the heart, the lungs, and the gizzard.

These things were common knowledge two generations ago, when nearly everyone participated in butchering chickens for a family meal. Today they’re esoteric for a young person.

On the second day of the hunt, Jesse and I only had about two hours. I had a prior commitment to be part of the security team for the Vertical Church in Yuma.

But Jesse’s shooting had improved. He downed five doves, even though the shooting is alway slower on the second day. Many doves have already been harvested, and a lot of the survivors had learned to be cautious.

Dove hunting is an important part of the Yuma economy. On a per pound basis, dove meat is very expensive. People travel hundreds of miles to participate in Yuma dove hunting each year.

As an older hunter, I get great satisfaction in mentoring young hunters. I benefited greatly from the mentoring of my father. I was able to step outside my door and start hunting while growing up in northern Wisconsin. Most of today’s young people do not have that advantage.

If you have the opportunity, take a young person hunting. The experience will broaden their horizons far beyond another video game.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch

comments

  1. avatar skoon says:

    Thank you for introducing the next gen to hunting. Im 28 and bring new ppl as often as i can. I cut my teeth duck hunting the frozen marsh inthe north east. I loved dove hunting in fl. On of my best friends dad was a big hunter in his day and never took my friend hunting or taught him how to shoot. I did. What a travesty of missed memories and life skills. Not to mention fun.

  2. avatar DaveR says:

    “It may appear that his finger is on the trigger in these photos, but it’s not. It is on the safety, just behind the trigger on the 870 shotgun.”

    Nope. In the first pic his finger is absolutely in front of the safety and inside the trigger guard. He’s also holding the shotgun horizontally with the action closed. Both are hunter safety no no-s. Ain’t gonna say we’re all perfect but that first pic is NOT illustrative of responsible hunter/gun safety

    1. avatar Bearpaw says:

      Yup, booger hook on the trigger. Need more discipline and less grin. And no silly excuses. Those lies just dirty up the situation.

    2. avatar Evey259 says:

      It looks like it’s ON the trigger guard proper, which I would consider acceptable TD.

      1. avatar Forward Assist says:

        Splitting hairs is the first sign of failure.

  3. avatar Guardiano says:

    Good. Now teach him to wear men’s jeans and boots.

  4. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Excellent work Dean.
    Now, it’s time to cook up some beautiful dove breast.

  5. avatar el Possum Guapo Operator Operating Opossum Herr Standartenfuher"they think we're making pizza'," Oberst von Burn says:

    Remember it well, old Iver Johanson single shot in .410 ,I got three them guys with autos and pumps got a bunch, but hey I got three.

    1. avatar Cracker with an attitude (CWA) hip hop gangsta country redneck mother lover trailer park hood represent wassup says:

      I remember in 2006 when we heard something moving in a bush, we took a shot and it turned out it was a Pedro Luis Castro Hernandez from Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, oh well this is a free country I can hunt what I want it ain’t communist Canada!

      1. avatar el Possum ect. says:

        As long as a person eats what they kill . I reckon it was a little greasy, sort of like a possum?

  6. avatar dlj95118 says:

    I’m sooooooooo looking forward to a bit ‘o hunting once the relocation to Idaho is complete! Turkeys roam our property… *8)

  7. avatar jwm says:

    Opening day was here in CA on the first, also. My son brought my grandson, aged 7, for his first hunt. He did not shoot but he enjoyed the experience. We made sure he understood the rules and we had hearing and bug spray for him and his own camo outfit.

    I saw others with young folks out there, also. Pass it on.

    As for explaining hunting. We are naturally, as humans, wired to hunt and gather. If you don’t have that desire then your system is broke. In the distant past that broken person would have died early and made way for healthier, non broken, people.

    1. avatar Gaylord says:

      I like to hunt and grow my own veggies. Hunting teaches you how not to waste, and how to appreciate everything. I also like to toss my wife’s salad in the woods or in a cave.

    2. avatar Kenneth G Maiden says:

      Enjoy it while you can. When slime bag newsom is crowned next calli overlord, his war on ALL FIREARM OWNERSHIP will begin in earnest.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        I enjoy every day for what it is. Every day could be our last. I don’t sweat the small shit like newsom. I’ve gotten a lot more out of CA than it has gotten out of me.

  8. avatar Dildo the Hobbit says:

    Then you can take Jesse to a brothel in NV. Are doves any good to eat, does it taste like pigeon?

  9. avatar Joseph Constable says:

    Thank you TTAG for not using Disqus for comments.

  10. avatar jwtaylor says:

    Limited out (15) on White Wings Saturday. Drove 60 miles northwest and limited out on Mourning Doves Sunday. Few Eurasians in there too. All with that same Remington VersaMax Tactical. Gotta love Texas hunting.

  11. avatar Jim says:

    Finger off the trigger ! ! !

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