Enjoying a Dove Game – Any Number Can Hunt and Play
Day 1: Remembering the Dove Shoots of Yesterday
Editor’s Note: Dixie sportsmen are bringing-back the great old tradition of plantation dove shooting. The best part is that you don’t really need a plantation to try it. Much of our hunting today has become a sport for loners, with many of the social and the recreational values eliminated. There was wisdom in the old planters of yesteryear who chose to meet annually in the fall for a delicious meal, a dove shoot and a time of fellowship. A plantation-style dove shoot today may be just the remedy to put fellowship, friendship and people enjoying people back into the sport of hunting.
Back more than 100-years ago, when life was slower, dove shooting was vastly different from the hunts of today. The most-important part of the hunt then was not the taking of the birds but rather the enjoyment of the lavish dinner, the opportunity to get together to discuss the cotton market and a time to reminisce about the steamboat races held the week before. The hunters arrived on horseback or in carriages carrying rabbit-ear shotguns. After lunch, the men were taken to the fields in mule-drawn wagons. During lulls in the action, the host had cold lemonade and fried chicken brought to the sportsmen in the field. The downed birds, which were picked-up each time the refreshment wagon came around, were carried back to the big house to be cleaned to ensure their freshness for the evening meal. And what a meal it was – a feast of dove, pork, beef, wild turkey, vegetables fresh from the garden and baked goods piping hot from the oven. Many of the men whose journeys home required half a day’s hard ride spent the night.
A plantation-style dove shoot was more than a hunt. It was part of the tradition of an elegant, more-leisurely-paced time that has passed. Since the farms were so far apart, a September dove shoot was one of the few times when men in the area gathered to discuss politics and business relating to their farms.