I come from a long line of hunters on my Dad’s side of the family.
If hunting was genetic, I would know all the game seasons, keep my licenses current, my guns cleaned, and have multiple mounted animal heads on my walls. But, as far as I know there is no hunting gene. I don’t have any hunting licenses and never did. I have no hunting guns and I only have a vague idea of when deer season is. My grandfather Johnnie loved to go off on hunting trips in various parts of Texas depending on what he was hunting. Sometimes my grandma Mary would go and sometimes my brother would go. When I was about 11, I went on one trip down to Pearsall, Texas. My grandparents gave me a chance to try shooting a shotgun. I was not prepared for the kick and was reduced to tears by the jolt and surprise of it. That was my first and my last hunting trip. I would rather observe and wonder at animals of all sorts and don’t have it in me to kill them.
So, I never became a hunter, and contrary to rumor, I was not named Betty after my grandfather Johnnie’s hunting dog “Betty.”
I did eat some of the game they brought home. We almost always had something wild in the freezer. My favorite was quail. I didn’t like the venison and I didn’t like duck or dove.
I think about hunting doves a lot these days because of the White winged doves that tend to dominate our backyard feeders.
These birds are easy to identify by their large size and the distinctive white edges to the wings. If you look just a bit closer you will see how handsome they can be with beautiful blue skin around the eyes and bright pink legs and feet.
White winged doves have moved from south Texas to much farther north. When I was a kid we never saw them here in Austin. Now they are everywhere and seem to have pushed away most of the smaller Mourning and Inca doves. According to a year 2000 Spring Breeding Survey there were 264,000 White winged doves here in Travis County! That was almost 20 years ago and I imagine there are more now, many of them in my backyard at times. It is believed that changing south Texas agriculture, loss of habitat, and hunting pressure have all contributed to the birds moving north.*
*White winged Dove information from Texas Parks and Wildlife Website Page: “South Texas Wildlife Management” (White-winged Doves) https://tpwd.texas.gov/landwater/land/habitats/southtx_plain/upland_birds/white_winged_dove.phtml