Families turn out for dove hunt

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 24, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Dove season started at noon on Sept. 14. At 1 p.m., young hunters and their parents took to the field with their shotguns.

They circled a large tract on the Auburn University Black Belt Experiment Station in northwest Dallas County.

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Families took positions behind haybales and under trees, surrounding the field and then they waited for doves.

About 50 fathers and sons, and mothers and daughters, from as far away as Birmingham and Wetumpka were in attendance at the annual Youth Dove Hunt put on by the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries in Dallas County.

Don and Carla Smith and their three sons from Selma were set up in the far corner of the field.

“I will not let my Daddy go hunting without me,” said six-year-old Tyler Smith.

Noah Smith, 3, had a plastic squirtgun locked and loaded in one hand as he proudly displayed in the other a dove his father had killed.

“Doves are really good. You saut& the breast in butter and wrap bacon around them and throw them on the grill.

The limit is 15 birds a day per hunter,”

Don Smith said.

Behind the next haybale, Blake Fancher and his son, Ethan, are waiting for more doves.

“You need a regular hunting license with a migratory bird stamp or ‘dove stamp.’ To get the dove stamp you just have to report how many doves you killed the previous year and that helps to collect data to tally roughly how many birds were killed the previous year,” Blake Fancher said.

Despite being hunted throughout most of its range, the mourning dove remains among the 10 most abundant birds in the United States.

But, it’s not all about hunting while in the field.

“A lot of people listen to the football game. Somebody has the game on a portable radio and we will congregate and then go our separate ways,” Fancher said as he looked to the sky for birds when someone across the field called out.

Volleys of shotgun fire begin going off around the field and some birds fall out of the sky.

Further down in some high grass behind a fence is Tommy Drehr, a veterinarian from Birmingham, with his two sons. It is their fourth year at this hunt.

“In the South this is one our big family hunts,” Drehr said. “I really enjoy it and it’s good for the kids. It gives us some really good times with my sons.”

As the day goes on, more and more doves begin to fly in to eat the seed in the field. The hunters stay out until official sunset time, which changes every day.

For Lt. Mark Rouleau and Joe Johnston of the Dallas County office of Alabama Wildlife and Fisheries, dove season marks the beginning of hunting season in general.

“Opening day is always a big day,” said Johnston who presided over the hunt. “We will be on the lookout for baited fields, over the limit, valid

hunting licenses and plugs in the gun. The rule is you can only have three shells in the gun.”