Life Lessons in a Dove Field
By Philip Hunt
Tales of the Hunts
Flipping the calendar from August to September signals the start of the “Hunting New Year.” The New Years party usually takes place in a field planted with sunflowers, millet, or buckwheat as the whole family starts the process of filling the freezer that is now close to empty after providing food for eight months. While good, honest food draws hunters afield, the main draw is the life lessons that hunters can hand down to the next generation.
What makes a field a dove field is the food planted there for all types of wildlife. Doves are not able to order a sunflower pizza and have it delivered. In the spring the field is cultivated, fertilized, and planted. Care is taken in May to have plenty of habitat in September.
Life lesson number one: You can’t create something great without work and patience.
Dove hunts can be messy outings. Between shooting boxes of shotgun shells, eating lots of snacks, and drinking plenty of water, a dove hunting spot can spread litter very effectively. From an early age, I have made it a point for my kids to leave a spot like they found it. At times they get frustrated with my nagging, but they will thank me one day. Nothing can ruin a picturesque wilderness scene like a spent six pack of beer.
Life lesson number two: Leave places better than you found it.
For better or worse, many kids are raised to feel entitled to success. This year, our field was invaded by a weed that took over. The normally pristine sunflowers were choked out by this weed and left us frustrated with its relentless assault. We did everything right, but the weeds won.
Life lesson number three: You can do everything right and things may not go your way.
While the weeds have been a setback, we did not give up on the field. Wildlife have specific needs, and if you can’t provide them food, provide something else they need. Birds need grit to help digest their food in their crop. I have actually hunted geese next to a dump truck load of small stones in Louisiana. Therefore, we exposed a few strips of dirt in the dove field. By the time we left, a large number of doves were filling up their crops with the small stones in the soil.
Life lesson number four: If something doesn’t go your way, don’t quit. Figure out a way to improve the situation.
This Saturday, a group of friends will sit around the perimeter of our Dove field and welcome the New Year of hunting. There are always more laughs than shots fired at these hunts. Old friendships are rekindled and stories of past hunts will get fresh material as the current hunt progresses. The community of hunters is a sight to behold. Three generations of outdoorsman celebrating their shared love of nature, community, and the bounty that it provides.
The final life lesson is the most important: Joy is found in community.