My Mentored Dove Hunt - David Gladkowski

Thanks to the NWTF’s adult mentored hunt, I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on dove hunting; so much so, I’m ready to hit the sunflower fields as soon as I have another free weekend.

Prior to the NWTF’s mentored dove hunt, the last time I was out in the field hunting doves was with my granddad in 2007. He and I had so much fun shooting doves with his American Brittany, Jako. Due to living a long distance from my grandfather and the lack of hunters in my close-by family and friend group, I had to table the fun in the dove field for several years.

The NWTF mentored dove hunt was a great reintroduction. It was nice to be around so many novice hunters, too. It could be intimidating being around only seasoned veterans hoping to get the bag limit, while you’re off to the side hoping to shoot at least one dove.

The day started with a general class about hunting doves and hunting regulations. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources officers handed out a booklet that had everything a new or experienced hunter would want to know about hunting in South Carolina –– where public lands are, which animals can be hunted, directions, bag limits and even tips for hunting!

Shortly after the information session, Pete Muller, NWTF’s public relations manager and unofficial resident wild-game chef, gave a cooking demonstration highlighting the various ways to prepare doves into gourmet treats. Pete’s recipes included Asian steamed wontons, BBQ dove meatballs and the classic dove popper. Each one was delicious. I think I was supposed to wait until after the demonstration of each recipe before eating my sample, but I just ate them as soon as they hit my plate.

After tasting how delicious the dove was, the only thing on my mind was bringing doves home.

I was glad we went to the Palmetto Shooting Complex in Edgefield, South Carolina, for target practice first, as my shooting skills needed sharpening. Rhett Simmons, the Palmetto Shooting Complex manager, was helpful and gave me and the other novice hunters several important tips.

“Stay about a box of shells in front of the bird, cheek on the stock and follow-through,” he said. I had a hard time repeating each tip, but when I did, I’d hit my target. I definitely felt more confident as we went to the dove field.

We caravanned out to the sunflower field, and I rode with my mentor, Terry. Terry was in his early 70s and provided great advice when we got out in the field. He showed me how to communicate with the other hunters around me and kept reminding me to follow-through on my shots.

Before the end of it, all of the hunters in my proximity were calling out doves for each other. There was so much energy in the dove field that evening. You could hear woo-hoos echoing from the other side of the sunflower field, too.

I brought home four doves that night and put them in a saltwater brine overnight. The next day, inspired by Pete’s recipe, I made dove wontons, but instead of steaming them, I threw them in the deep fryer. I put a small spin on Pete’s recipe to make it my own, adding carrots, Worcestershire sauce and green onions. Needless to say, my wife expects me back in the dove field as soon as possible.

I’d recommend the mentored hunt to any adult wanting to get their feet wet but not sure where to start.    

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