Mourning Doves: The Re-birth of a New Hunting Tradition

Okay, I’m going to be honest with you. This is not a fluff piece about how wonderful mourning dove hunting is now that the activity has returned to Minnesota after a long hiatus. On the other hand, for the record, I am a strong supporter of anything to increase our opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors.

I happen to believe that hunting mourning doves is an activity that is very conservation minded. In my mind, conservation is defined as the wise use of a resource. In fact, with the average life-span of the doves typically less than 1 ½ years, harvesting a portion of the population seems to make perfect sense.

So, with Minnesota’s first dove season in many decades half over, what type of sportsman made it out into the field this fall hunting? Well, from my take on it there were several folks just curious about the sport having never done it before. With the season opening on September 1st it was also a good excuse to get the gun out of the closet and get the cob-webs dusted off. For many of these folks, they probably feel that the fall season is short enough, so here is a way to extend it out by starting early.

On the other hand, I know a certain segment of Minnesota sportsmen probably are very familiar with dove hunting. Sportsmen with the means to travel internationally find Argentina a very popular dove hunting destination. So, for these sportsmen who are familiar with mid-winter international dove hunts, a Minnesota outing might be a nice change of pace, albeit with likely much less success. In other words, in Minnesota a hunter would have to work hard for his birds compared to some of the pictures I’ve seen from places like Argentina.

The question remains will mourning dove hunting catch on in Minnesota? It’s hard to tell at this point…my guess is that like anything else it’s a novelty at first, but once the newness wears off the sport will lose popularity.

But popularity aside, this sportsman is hoping that Minnesota’s new dove season has a long and healthy existence. Opportunities create interest…and even though I might not personally be moved to set up dove decoys and wait for passing shots along a fenceline, that doesn’t mean plenty of other sportsmen will not find the sport extremely exciting. So for that reason I am a big fan of the sport even if I know I will likely never participate.

A similar example is that of trapping. In Minnesota there is roughly 7,000 trappers annually…which amounts to a very small percentage of the overall number of sportsmen in this state. Still, I believe trappers deserve the full support and understanding of other sportsmen even if the majority of sportsmen do not choose to participate. A wide variety of opportunities…whether it be dove shooting, trapping, or some other fairly obscure outdoor sport, deserves the full support of everyone in the sporting fraternity.

I’m encouraged to see a new hunting sport added to the hunting synopsis this year. It tells me that, at least politically, our precious heritage is gaining back a tradition it lost long ago. The trend has been to see our sporting opportunities eroding, but in Minnesota at least for 2004, it will go down in our history books as a year of growth…and I think for that we should all be encouraged.

© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.