Contact: Robert Matthews, Senior Coordinator, Upper Midwestern States & Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy
Why It Matters: With a relatively laid-back nature compared to other hunting opportunities, dove hunting is an enjoyable way to introduce a beginner to the world of wing shooting. After honing skills at the sporting clays range, dove hunting, especially when utilizing one of the many apprentice hunting opportunities available in several midwestern states, represents a great next step in the recruitment of the current and future generations of sportsmen and women, a top priority for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF).
September is approaching quickly, and with it comes the start of fall hunting seasons. For many a wing shooter, this beginning manifests in the form of dove season. Depending on where you are in the region, you may have the opportunity to pursue several different species of the fast-flying migrants. However, regardless of species, there is no doubt that dove hunting represents one of the most challenging wing shooting opportunities – and therefore an appropriate warmup for future bird hunting seasons – available to sportsmen and sportswomen.
Although it does require a decent level of wing shooting skills, dove hunting is relatively simplistic. Requiring little more than a shotgun, an abundance of ammunition (pat yourself on the back for supporting the “user pays — public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding), and a positive attitude, dove hunting’s simple nature represents a great opportunity to introduce a beginner to wing shooting. Just make sure that you check your state fish and wildlife agency’s website for any ammunition restrictions and the required licenses.
One thing of note for new hunters, many states allow beginner hunter to participate under the supervision of a licensed hunter prior to completing their hunter education through an apprentice hunting license program. Apprentice licenses, a concept that CSF has worked to support throughout the country, represents a “try it before you buy it” introduction to hunting, which can open the door for those who may be hesitant to pursue their hunter education. Now available in some form in 47 states, apprentice hunting licenses, especially when combined with fun and exciting opportunities like dove hunting, are a great way to recruit new hunters to our outdoor sporting community. Good luck to all the dove hunters heading to the field in the next couple weeks and remember to introduce somebody new every chance you get!
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?