John's Journal...

The Mystery Dove Field – Why Birds Came There

Day 4: A Four Generation Dove Hunt

Editor’s Note: All hunters look forward to the opening of dove season each fall throughout the country, since dove season officially starts the year’s hunting season. I was hunting doves this past weekend on opening day of dove season, when a new/old friend, Keith Tate of Dora, Ala., invited me on a dove hunt. Tate’s family had hunted this property for about 100 years, and the only time I’d met Tate was as a youngster, hunting doves with his dad and granddad, when I interviewed them for my outdoor radio show 35-years ago. (See Day 3).

Click for Larger View“I listened to your radio show until it went off the air, and every time I found one of your articles, I showed it to my friends and said, ‘I know this guy. I hunted doves with him when I was a little bitty boy,’” Keith Tate told me on the phone a couple of weeks ago. “Mr. Phillips, I’m sure you don’t remember me, but you came up to my family’s farm and hunted doves with my dad, granddad and me, I was only about 7- or 8-years old. You interviewed us for your syndicated radio show with my granddad, my dad and some of our neighbors. You sent us a copy of the cassette with my dad’s and granddad’s voices on it from your interview. Click for Larger ViewThat cassette tape is the only recording that my family and I have of my dad’s and my granddad’s voices. I’d like for you to come dove hunting with us again. We’ll be hunting in the same area that you hunted with us more that 35-years ago. My daughter, who’ll be the fourth generation to hunt this property, will be there to hunt with us as well. I’ll have that cassette tape copied to a CD, so you can have a copy of the interview you did so long ago with my family. Your coming to hunt with us will be really special. Then you will have hunted doves with four generations of my family. My family and my neighbors have lived on this land more than 100 years, and as long as our families have been in this area we’ve held an opening-day dove hunt for the folks who live around here, as well as their friends and families.”

Click for Larger ViewI thought to myself, “If someone could remember me after only meeting me one time for one dove hunt and still think enough of me to invite me to come to a dove shoot that I went on way back when, I’m going to go.” Click for Larger ViewThis memorable dove shoot gave me the opportunity not only to take a walk back into the Tate family history, but also to return to the very roots of my journalism career. Very-few things on this earth last for four generations, but the dove hunt with the Tate family has survived and thrived now into the fourth generation. Outdoors people like the Tates and their legacies are amazing. This dove hunt was one of the greatest I’d ever been on, because it reconnected me with a place, a time and a group of people I’ll remember for a lifetime.

Tomorrow: Tips for Improving Your Dove Hunts This Year

Check back each day this week for more about "The Mystery Dove Field – Why Birds Came There "

Day 1: Why Doves Came to a Field that Had No Food
Day 2: Taking 15 Doves with 20 Shots for a $100 Reward
Day 3: The Best Dove Shoot Ever
Day 4: A Four Generation Dove Hunt
Day 5: Tips for Improving Your Dove Hunt This Year

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Entry 630, Day 4