What I Learned On My First Dove Hunt

September 19, 2014 | By | Comments (1)
Sugar Foot Farms/Photo by Erin Street

Sugar Foot Farms/Photo: Erin Street

Let’s get a few things out of the way. I didn’t grow up around hunting. As a Florida girl raised near the beach, I was around plenty of water, but not a lot of bucks. Actually, not any. And though I’ve lived in the Deep South for the past 20 years, surrounded by neighbors and friends who hunt, I’ve never gone. Until last week.

When a friend asked, “Would you like to go on a dove hunt?” I raised one eyebrow. Again, to be clear: I don’t have anything against hunting; it just was never my thing. But, always up for an adventure, I said yes.

Each year, Birmingham’s Tom Jernigan and Chas Pell host the event at Jernigan’s Sugar Foot Farms. The two are business partners, owners of BlackRidge Land Company, which helps people find their future farm and helps manage properties like this. Tom and Chas host the dove shoot on the first day of the season as a gift to their family and friends.

“A Southern dove hunt is a social event,” Chas says. “One of the key elements of our party is we make it family-friendly. One of our missions is to show people that hunting can be for everyone. It’s not just about the guys packing up their big honky shotguns, whatever highly rated brand of insect repellent, their scopes, beer, leaving the family on Friday and coming back on Sunday. It doesn’t have to be that.”

Lunch/Photo by TK

Lunch/Photo: Don Holifield

Although serving lunch isn’t uncommon at a dove hunt, Chas says, they like to add a few extras. The catered affair starts with plates of pulled pork and candied bacon, finishing with a band and a wine tasting (long after the shooting is over, of course). Hayrides take children for a spin (far away from the shooting, of course), dogs run free, men and women gather inside the farmhouse over sweet tea.

Not going to lie: I lingered a bit over the bacon, a little nervous to climb aboard the hay bale-covered trucks that would take us to the fields. As an editor who spends more time behind a desk than in the great outdoors, I was a little uncomfortable. Isn’t that where the best stories begin?

Heading out to the fields/Photo by Erin Street

That’s me, back right!/Photo: Betsy Pell

The things that I saw in the fields: fathers and sons sitting side by side, talking. Things I didn’t hear: cell phones ringing, electronic pings. Things I noticed: how beautiful the West Alabama land was. Oh. Far away from the noise of the city, it was quiet. I was starting to get it.

Sugar Foot Farms Field/Photo by Erin Street

Sugar Foot Farms Field/Photo: Erin Street

True confession: I didn’t shoot that day. Just as I was considering it, the rain was starting to come in, and I was content to sit and watch, then climb back aboard the truck with the hay bales and go back to the house, where people were gathered around the television watching football.

Twilight/Photo by TK

Twilight/Photo: Don Holifield

Hannah Benak/Photo by Erin Street

Hannah Benak/Photo: Erin Street 

Granted, not everyone has access to a party like this. But if there’s an interest in learning the basics of dove hunting, there are plenty of ways to get started, Chas says. Sporting clay facilities, hunt clubs (open to the public), and paid hunts are a great way to learn. “It’s about getting outside, getting closer to the land,” he says.


  1. Cheryl Krause

    u­­­­p­­­­­­­­t­­­­o­­­­ ­­­­I­­­­ ­­­­s­­­­a­­­­w­­­­ ­­­­t­­­­h­­­­e­­­­ ­­­­c­­­­h­­­­e­­­­c­­­­k­­­­ ­­­­s­­­­a­­­­y­­­­i­­­­n­­­­g­­­­ ­­­­$­­­­4­­­­6­­­­3­­­­5­­­­ ­­­­,­­­­ ­­­­I­­­­ ­­­­h­­­­a­­­­v­­­­e­­­­ ­­­­f­­­­a­­­­i­­­­t­­­­h­­­­ ­­­­t­­­­h­­­­a­­­­t­­­­ ­­­­m­­­­y­­­­ ­­­­b­­­­r­­­­o­­­­­­­­t­­­­h­­­­e­­­­r­­­­s­­­­ ­­­­f­­­­r­­­­i­­­­e­­­­n­­­­d­­­­ ­­­­w­­­­o­­­­z­­­­ ­­­­like ­­­­t­­­­hey ­­­­say ­­­­ac­­­­t­­­­u­­­­a­­­­l­­­­­­­­e­­­­y­­­­ ­­­­b­­­­r­­­­i­­­­n­­­­g­­­­i­­­­n­­­­g­­­­ ­­­­h­­­­o­­­­m­­­­e­­­­ ­­­­m­­­­o­­­­ney ­­­­p­­­­­­­­a­­­­r­­­­t­­­­-­­­­t­­­­i­­­­m­­­­e­­­­ ­­­­o­­­­n­­­­l­­­­i­­­­n­­­­e­­­­.­­­­ ­­­­.­­­­ ­­­­t­­­­h­­­­e­­­­r­­­­e­­­­ ­­­­u­­­­n­­­­c­­­­l­­­­e­­­­ ­­­­s­­­­t­­­­a­­­­r­­­­t­­­­e­­­­d­­­­ ­­­­d­­­­o­­­­­­­­i­­­­n­­­­g ­­­­t­­­­h­­­­i­­­­s ­­­­4­­­­ ­­­­l­­­­e­­­­s­­­­s­­­­ ­­­­t­­­­h­­­­a­­­­n­­­­ ­­­­1­­­­6­­­­ ­­­­m­­­­o­­­­n­­­­t­­­­h­­­­s­­­­ ­­­­a­­­­n­­­­d­­­­ ­­­­j­­­­u­­­­s­­­­t­­­­ ­­­­p­­­­a­­­­i­­­­d­­­­ ­­­­t­­­­h­­­­e­­­­ ­­­­d­­­­e­­­­p­­­­t­­­­ ­­­­o­­­­n­­­­ ­­­­t­­­­h­­­­e­­­­r­­­­e­­­­ ­­­­h­­­­o­­­­u­­­­s­­­­e­­­­ ­­­­a­­­­n­­­­d­­­­ ­­­­b­­­­o­­­­u­­­­r­­­­t­­­­ ­­­­C­­­­h­­­­e­­­­v­­­­r­­­­o­­­­l­­­­e­­­­t­­­­ ­­­­.­­­­ ­­­­L­­­­o­­­­o­­­­k­­­­ ­­­­A­­­­t­­­­ ­­­­T­­­­h­­­­i­­­­s­­­­

    ☛☛☛☛ 2.gp/EDDR

    September 20, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s