Grandson’s First Dove Shoot

Lessons from a special 2022 dove-season opener.

Reader Contributed | September 30, 2022

By Mike Parker

My grandson and I were honored with an invitation to the annual dove shoot a friend holds on his farm near Denton. We all know the opening-day dove shoot in south Georgia is more than a hunt. It is a social event and a gathering of good, like-minded people. Since this is Christian’s (my grandson) first real dove shoot, I told him there will be many lessons to learn.

Lesson 1: Never show up at a south Georgia social event without a covered dish and good manners. So, we brought a homemade butter-pecan cake and happy smiles.

I asked Christian to take the cake to the equipment shed. I knew the buffet table would be waiting for him. When he returned, he was excited about all the delicious food he saw and the homemade lemonade.

Lesson 2: Always bring your appetite to a south Georgia social event, because the food will be abundant and great. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between a Baptist homecoming dinner on the grounds and a good dove shoot. Good blessings and God’s grace is present in both. Oh, did I mention the good food?

The invitation said we would eat around 1 p.m.

Lesson 3: Show up early to help set up and have time to sit around the grill to visit and swap stories with old friends. Also, everyone has to tell the grillmaster how to cook the chickens.

As all the regulars show up for the event, the excitement rises as hunters begin checking the sunflower field for doves. Our host Mr. Earl has gone to great lengths to have a good shoot. As for the field where the hunt will occur, it is the “Augusta National” of dove fields, with mowed and clean areas next to larger sunflowers for cover. Mr. Earl even had shady spots for us old spoiled hunters.

After a great meal, a safety meeting and asking God’s blessings on the day, we head to our stands. As Christian and I get to our stand, the first action I require of my grandson is to stand up and locate and wave to all the hunters around us. Next, we talk about safety. No low birds and always be aware of where your gun is pointed—loaded or not!

Lesson 4: A safe hunter is invited back, and an unsafe hunter is asked to leave.

By this time the hunt is in full swing, and it is a great hunt. Birds are everywhere and as the shooting gets fast and furious, birds are falling like rain.

Now Christian is so excited to try out his new 20-gauge pump shotgun. He told me on the way down to the hunt how he practiced shooting skeet and even hitting small thrown targets.

“So I think I am ready for these doves,” he told me.

I tried to explain to not get disappointed if he didn’t hit many doves at first. I told him to just keep shooting and enjoy the shooting and the beautiful day. So he did, shoot a lot that is.

I quickly understood my job was to keep bringing ammo to Christian and pointing out birds coming in toward his stand. I was also Christian’s retriever when he started to hit a few birds.

Lesson 5: Humility. Shooting at fast, darting doves will humble most hunters, especially first-timers. But this dose of humility has never been enjoyed more by a 13-year-old, or by a granddaddy watching such an excited smile on this next-generation hunter.

I even had the football game on my phone. Listening to the Dawgs and shooting doves with my grandson on a beautiful south Georgia day is when you know life is good.

As some hunters limited out, they started to leave the field. So I told Christian, “It is time to clean up all your spent shells and any trash.” As you might expect, “Granddaddy, can I shoot a little longer? I haven’t limited out.”

Being a tough granddaddy I said, “Sure have a good time.”

Lesson 6: Always leave a man’s field clean.

Now we load our stuff and head to the truck. Before I could ask, Christian said, “Granddaddy that was great. I really enjoyed the dove shoot. Thank you for taking me.”

As we drove home, the sun started to hide behind the trees and splash the sky with a soft, orange sunset straight from God’s paintbrush. I listened to Christian tell me how he plans to cook his 12 doves.

Lesson 7: Granddaddy’s lesson. Enjoy and appreciate special blessings like today’s dove shoot with friends and my grandson.

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