When Doves Fly: A group of fathers and sons are eager to make more memories on Thursday's opening day of dove season
Tom Hall of Piedmont loaded two cases of shotgun shells in his truck for this week's trip to the Beaver River Wildlife Management Area for the opening of dove season.
“The truck will definitely weigh less coming back,” said Hall, referring to the amount of shooting that will take place on Thursday and during the following days of dove season.
For Hall and his 16-year-old son, Levi, the opening of dove season is an annual excursion that they await eagerly each year.
“It's a big deal,” Tom Hall said. ”He (Levi) starts talking about it quite a bit a month out. When it is time to go to bed, he starts asking questions about dove hunting.”
Hall knows the anticipation his son is feeling. The opening of dove season also was special to Hall and his father.
“I would stay up half the night thinking about it,” he said. “I am sure he (Levi) is that way.”
Hall, 56, has been shooting doves since he was 15. He grew up in south Oklahoma City hunting doves with his father near Mustang where houses now sit.
“He got me into (hunting),” Hall said of his father. “I would like to know how many dollars I have spent over the years for shells and hunting and gas and trucks.”
His hunting trips with Levi require more travel than they did with his father, but they are carrying on a tradition that has been passed between many fathers and sons.
In fact, Hall's hunting party of nine this week will include four sets of fathers and son, including a pair driving from Fort Worth.
Hall will travel to Beaver River on Wednesday to scout. He will hunt Thursday and Friday and will be joined by the rest of the group, including his son, on Friday night. Levi doesn't get to skip school for opening day.
Then for the next two days, they will stake out the food plots on the wildlife management area in the mornings, where hopefully hungry doves will be looking to feed.
In the evenings, they will hunt around watering holes where the birds get a nightcap before heading to roost.
With a little luck, there will be several meals of sliced dove breasts that have been filled with a jalapeño pepper and wrapped in bacon, while marinated in equal amounts of Worcestershire sauce, orange juice and Italian dressing. The cookouts are a highlight of the trip.
“Everybody looks forward to that,” Hall said.
What excites Hall about dove season is that it is the beginning of fall hunting. It also provides a lot of shooting opportunities and it is a challenge to hit those high flying, acrobatic birds.
And, it creates more father and son memories than anyone can count.
Those sons who will be shooting doves with their fathers in the coming days on Beaver River could very likely be doing the same with their sons one day.
Hall sometimes thinks about that while hunting with the father-son quartet.
“We are paying it forward, I guess," he said.
• Dates: Sept. 1-Oct. 31 and Dec. 17-25 statewide.
• Bag limits: 15 daily, which includes combination of mourning, white-winged and fully-dressed Eurasian collared doves. There is no bag limit on Eurasian collared doves provided the head or one fully-feathered wing is attached to the carcass so the birds can be identified by game wardens.
• Special regulations: In addition to a state hunting license, a federal Harvest Information Program permit is required and shotguns must be plugged to hold no more than three shells. Some public hunting areas, such as Hackberry Flat, will require hunters to use steel shot.
• New for 2016: Foss State Park in Custer County will offer dove hunting for the first time but the season will not open until Sept. 15. There will be special areas designated for hunting. Beginning Oct. 1, the park will also allow rabbit hunting for the first time.