It’s finally here! The opening of Dove Season and who better to celebrate with than Filson Life guest blogger, Tommy Ellis, who has grown up celebrating the first day of Dove Season in the south for years, all with his friends and family’s traditions. Tommy is a wildlife and landscape artist with a specialty in watercolors and also an avid hunter and fisherman. He comes to us from Tennessee to tell us just what it’s like in his neck of the woods and all of his fond childhood memories. We wish we were there!
September 1st, opening of dove season, at 12:00 noon hunters take to fields across our state. I remember this being one of the first hunts I was ever taken on. As kids we waited and waited to hunt with the adults, dove fields or squirrel hunts provided our chance to be included and to learn from our heroes. We were so excited to finally get to climb in the truck to head out on a hunt.
I hunted mostly with firemen from Nashville, it took several trucks to load them, us, gear and guns to travel down to Bedford county where amazing amounts of doves live. We had several farms that knew us and sometimes the Beesleys Dairy farm would provide us with a five to 10 acre field all our own. I remember standing in the shade of a treeline waiting for the birds to fly, listening to them tell us where to set up, which way to look and why birds came in at certain points.
Shooting was always fast and fun, it limits the norm and the ride home was always so much fun telling of shots both hit or missed. A good day meant a lot of doves for the table along with ducks or geese from the freezer when we got home. The tradition became, folks gathering in the kitchen visiting while everything was prepared after a hunt. Mrs. McIntyre cooked doves in a way I could never figure out but loved nonetheless. We were always trying to help but she kindly ran us out of HER kitchen.
Most of the old timers that taught us are gone now leaving us as teachers, not only of the hunt but of meals afterwards. Opening day brings back memories of hot days, cut fields, darting birds, along with the thrill of being included in the ritual of starting our season. Our traditional meal has grown over the years to include many things grown in our gardens, corn, tomatoes and peppers on the grill. It has grown from doves to include any opening day no matter what we hunt, it is another reason to be with friends and family and pass along to the kids the meaning of what we do.