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As many have learned, teaching a skill can be more enjoyable than exercising it. Last year I took Joe hunting, and he shot his first doves. In between seasons, I taught him to drive. This year I asked if he wanted to go hunting again, and he did, but he asked if he could bring a friend, Mason. Mason had already been dove hunting, he said. After a few questions, I agreed.  Mason is 16.

The boys were up and ready at 05:30, just as I had asked. It was gratifying to see them appropriately dressed, with water and snacks, and shotgun shells. Joe’s father was giving Mason instruction on a Benelli Nova 12 gauge pump. Mason said he had used a side by side, and I had brought one, an Ugartechea 12 gauge.I said he could use it. We brought the Benelli along as another spare.

I carried a beat-up 20 gauge Remington 870 Wingmaster. Someone had removed nearly all the finish, so I picked it up at a local gun show for $100. I had grown up with a 20 gauge 870, and it suited me like an old friend. It was likely four times as old as the young hunters. I didn’t expect to shoot much, if at all, so it was really just another spare. I brought an old box of 20 gauge paper shell reloads with it, just in case.

The sun wasn’t yet up when we arrived at the urban pocket where I’ve hunted doves for 15 years. It’s legal, but few know of it. The suburbs of Yuma (yes, we have them) haven’t quite wiped it out, yet.

This was the second day of the season. The limit was 15 Mourning and White Wing doves with no limit on Rock Doves (pigeons), or collared doves, both being invasive species. On opening day I had limited, with a bonus of two pigeons and four collared dove.

The hunt started slowly, pass shooting as the doves flew from roosting in the citrus groves to the fields. I instructed the boys on safety and shooting technique. I learned that Mason’s experience consisted of three outings. On thehe first, he didn’t shoot. On the second, he only fired only a couple of shots. The third, less than a dozen. I considered him a beginner.

Both boys did well, but Mason had an exceptional day, one I think he will remember for a long time.

A bird came in. I told Mason to swing on it, get in front of it, and shoot. He did and with his first shot his first bird dropped like a rock.

We changed position to take advantage of the the doves returning from the fields and the action quickened.

Mason shot three shotguns that day and dropped doves with all of them. The Ugartechea started misfiring in the right barrel, so I handed him the Wingmaster and gave him some instruction. He had never shot a pump before, and he loved it, firing twenty-one shots with it. With only four 20 gauge shells left, we switched to the Benelli.

He jump-shot another dove with the Benelli as we walked back to where we had left Joe. Shortly after, the birds stopped coming in and we quit for the day. Mason totaled 14 Mourning doves for about 40 shots, showing real wing shooting talent. Joe bagged seven Mourning doves, also doing well. Joe was shooting a Browning Double Auto. The young hunters might have gotten more birds, but I kept them close for coaching.

I had the young men retrieve each dove as it was downed before they shot another. We didn’t lose any birds that we saw hit the ground. While I didn’t fire a shot, I hope to take both hunters out again. Joe has indicated an interest in bigger game. Maybe I can find a place in Texas that needs some wild hogs removed.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
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  1. Sounds like a great time. I was out there by Yuma over the weekend, though I had less luck (my poor shooting) than your group.

  2. Very nice story. Glad you had a good hunt with some young men.

    I went out here in Ohio with my father and uncle. My shooting was not so good 7 birds with 3 boxes of shells. Dad did about the same and uncle schooled us both just like every year

    • Look in Mason’s lap. You will see a pair of Walker’s electronic ear muffs. Joe has taken off his Peltor’s. As we were done shooting, I had the young men remove their hearing protection (I supplied it) and turn them off. I was wearing a custom set of hearing aids designed for shooting hunting, and riding motorcycles. I supplied sun glasses to the young men, but I let them decide if they needed them or not.

  3. Kids pick up stuff really quick. Did you teach them how to clean the birds? Recipes for cooking? Just as important as the hunting, in my opinion. Field to table, an important cycle.

    • Do mine eyes deceive, or did Gray Man just say something that made sense? Nah. You’re clearly an impostor.

    • Any recipes that don’t involve bacon or jalapeno peppers?
      I marinated mine in spiced run, olive oil, lime juice and jerk seasoning.
      I smoked them on a bed of diced onion and bell pepper for ten minutes then wrapped in foil and left on the smoker for another ten minutes. I topped it off with a mixture of pureed pineapple and jerk paste. Served black beans and yellow rice on the side and paired it with Sweetwater Going Coastal Pineapple IPA.

      • I cook them in a slow cooker with soy sauce, garlic, onion salt, celery salt, a small amount of Tabasco, some oregano, a bit of red wine, if handy. Make sure the dove breasts are covered with water. After cooking overnight, the meat falls off the bones, and it is easy to remove the bones.

        I usually serve them mixed with rice. Add the dove meat to the rice, break up the breast meat into smaller bits that will easily fit on a fork. This year I added some roasted garlic Balsamic dressing to the rice and doves, and it was delicious!

  4. Brings back many great Yuma memories of taking my boys out every Sep 1st for the opening Dove Hunt. Good Times. Well Done Dean.

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